The UK’s lowest-earners are being offered just £13 per day if they have to leave work to self-isolate.
A new scheme, trialling in some of the areas hit hardest by Coronavirus – Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham – from Tuesday (01 September) will provide £130 to workers who stay at home for 10 days and £183 to those who are off work for 14 days.
Only people currently receiving Universal Credit or Working Tax Credits will be eligible for the scheme. All other workers, including those receiving Universal Credit or Working Tax Credits outside of the trial areas, will continue to be unpaid for time they spend self-isolating due to medical advice.
Local leaders and government scientists criticised the scheme as unworkable and offensive.
Mohammed Iqbal, Leader of Pendle borough council, described the scheme as a “slap in the face for those people who sadly test positive”.
Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, described the amount as “paltry”, and scientific advisor to the government, Stephen Reicher, said it was “woefully inadequate in multiple ways”.
Liverpool Mayor, Steve Rotheram, said people would have to “choose between putting food on the table or keeping their communities safe”, while Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, pointed out Matt Hancock’s hypocrisy.
“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?,” he said.