The Government has confirmed it will pay compensation to those on low incomes who are forced to self-isolate in certain parts of the country.
Those eligible for the scheme will receive £130 for their 10-day stint in quarantine, while other members of their household who have to isolate for 14 days will receive £182.
People on either Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit, who are unable to work from home and live in an area considered a coronavirus hotspot, will be eligible for the payments.
Health secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the scheme will launch on Tuesday, starting with a trial in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham.
‘The British public have already sacrificed a great deal to help slow the spread of the virus,’ he said.
‘Self-isolating if you have tested positive for Covid-19, or have come into contact with someone who has, remains vital to keeping on top of local outbreaks.
‘This new payment scheme will help people on low incomes and who are unable to work from home to continue playing their part in the national fight against this virus.’
Payments will be made 48 hours after evidence of having to self-isolate is provided, and the scheme will be quickly assessed to see if it helps slow the transmission of the virus in high-risk areas.
Anneliese Dodds, Labour’s shadow chancellor, said: ‘Labour has been warning for months that the Government needs to make sure that people can afford to do the right thing, but once again ministers have taken far too long to realise there’s a problem.
‘It’s concerning that this will only apply to a limited number of areas with high rates of Covid-19.
‘The instruction to self-isolate applies to everyone in the country, so everyone should get the support they need to self-isolate.’
The mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: ‘I am pleased they have at last acknowledged this issue but am sorry to say this move goes nowhere near far enough.
‘The health secretary has already said that he couldn’t live on Statutory Sick Pay at £95 a week. So how can an announcement like this work?
‘For many workers in Greater Manchester, this will not provide the support people need to cooperate with NHS Test and Trace.’
It comes as officials are set to meet today to decide whether local lockdowns should continue in England.
The next announcement on restrictions in parts of Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and west Yorkshire is due to take place after a meeting of the Joint Biosecurity Centre, chaired by Mr Hancock alongside chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.
Mr Hancock announced a more targeted approach to restrictions last week, in which the views of MPs would also be sought to gain ‘the maximum possible local consensus’.
People living in specific wards in Pendle and Blackburn in Lancashire, along with the borough of Oldham in Greater Manchester, were told not to socialise with anyone outside their household from midnight last Saturday, and only to use public transport if essential.
Drinking outdoors over the Bank Holiday weekend was banned by police in Greater Manchester due to fears this could cause the infection rate to soar.
Meanwhile, the leader of Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire said the restrictions in place are ‘confusing’ and urged the Government to lift restrictions for the whole of Kirklees.
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