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Government will offer £13 per day self-isolation payment for low-income workers

Government will offer £13 per day self-isolation payment for low-income workers

Author: Rafi Benady | Thursday 27th August 2020

Government will offer £13 per day self-isolation payment for low-income workers Photograph

So much for their “no-one will be left behind” mantra.

From Tuesday onwards, people claiming Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit and who cannot work from home because they’re self-isolating will be able to get the money - equal to £13 a day. Scrooges.

It’s worth noting that the £13 will be on top of the statutory sick pay. But if this scheme applies to you, then chances are you’ll be on a zero-hours contract, meaning your sick pay will be comically low.

So let’s do the numbers: if you’re 25+ and you work an eight hour day you’d pocket around £69.80, just under £350 per week. This means the government is offering the poorest people five times less than what they’d be earning previously through this scheme, plus the statutory sick pay (SSP) of £95 per week.

£13 per day, five days in a week works out to £65 per week. Add the £95 from the SSP and you come out with £160 per week, less than half of what you’d have otherwise earned.

So for example, if you have a family, you’re in a lot of trouble. Unless of course you think raising a family on £13 plus SSP is adequate, which our government appears to.

This could result in people ending up with less than they would have, had they not been ill, which could in turn result in people going into work when they shouldn’t.

This was echoed by a former headteacher who wished to remain anonymous. She said: “I’d be ok because I was on a monthly wage, so I’d have been paid that. But I’d be in trouble if I was on an hourly wage because I have a family, and I think this scheme risks sending people into work when they shouldn’t be there.”

The government will be trialling this new system in parts of North-West England first… which are some of the poorest parts of the country.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham slammed this scheme, saying the payment "goes nowhere near far enough".

But Health Secretary Matt Hancock had different ideas, and sees this scheme as something to celebrate.

He said: “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.”

Employed or self-employed people who test positive for the virus are required to isolate for 10 days, so those eligible for the extra money will get £130.

But members of the household of someone who has tested positive, who must self-isolate for 14 days, will be entitled to up to £182, provided they qualify for the payment.