Coronavirus payments of £500 to be considered to boost self isolation numbers in England

Ministers are to consider £500 Covid payments to encourage people in England who have contracted the virus to self isolate.

The overhaul has been prompted by Cabinet Office polling indicating that only 17% of people with symptoms are coming forward for testing
The overhaul has been prompted by Cabinet Office polling indicating that only 17% of people with symptoms are coming forward for testing

The proposal, revealed in a leaked document from the Department of Health, is set to be discussed by ministers as there have been concerns that the current financial support, unveiled by the Prime Minister four months ago, is not working and is exclusionary because low paid workers cannot afford to self-isolate, meaning that they are torn between losing earnings or spreading the disease.

The suggestion follows government polling which found that only 17 per cent of people experiencing Covid-19 symptoms are coming forward to be tested with fears that a positive result would prevent them from working.

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At present only those on a low income who cannot work from home and receive one of seven means-tested benefits are eligible for the £500 test-and-trace support payment.

The universal payment is reportedly the ‘preferred position’ of Matt Hancock’s Department of Health and Social Care

A universal £500 payment could cost up to £453 million per week - 12 times the cost of the current payouts if there were 60,000 cases a day.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Environment Secretary George Eustice said that financial support for those self isolating was ‘always kept under review’.

He added: "We've got to consider all sorts of policies in order to make sure that people abide by the rules, are able to abide by the rules and we get the infection rate down.”

A sub-committee of the cabinet which meets daily would ‘weigh up the arguments’ on both sides before a decision was made.

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