Everyone with Covid in England ‘could be paid £500’ to self-isolate under new government proposal

22 January 2021, 07:10

Ministers could pay £500 to everyone with Covid in England
Ministers could pay £500 to everyone with Covid in England. Picture: PA Images/Getty Images
Naomi Bartram

By Naomi Bartram

The payment would be part of an effort to encourage self-isolation and testing.

Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 in England could be paid £500 to self-isolate by the government under plans drawn up by ministers.

According to the Guardian, leaked proposals from the Department of Health (DoH) show proposals which hope to encourage people with symptoms to get tested and stay at home.

At the moment, it is a legal requirement for anyone in England testing positive for coronavirus to self-isolate.

There is a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment available, but this only applies to those who are unable to work from home and on certain benefits.

New Covid payments could be rolled out
New Covid payments could be rolled out. Picture: PA Images

The Guardian claims that the new proposal was prepared by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) for discussion at a Covid Operations Committee meeting later today.

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The report said: “Anyone who tested positive for Covid-19, irrespective of their age, employment status or ability to work from home, would be eligible for TTSP.

“This would be straightforward for local authorities to administer, though it would lead to significantly greater volumes of applications than under the current scheme.”

Another option would be to end the £500 one-off payments to those who have been in contact with infected people and roll out nationwide self-testing, so those who test negative can return to work.

Those with Covid could receive a payment from the government
Those with Covid could receive a payment from the government. Picture: Getty Images

The plan - which could cost up to £453m per week - follows research that suggested only 17% of people with COVID-19 symptoms get a test because they can’t afford to stop working.

A Cabinet Office survey reportedly suggested only 17% of people with symptoms were coming forward for testing.

Another DHSC poll suggested only one in four people reported complying with the self-isolation rules, with 15% going to work as normal.

A spokesperson for the DHSC told The Guardian: “We are in one of the toughest moments of this pandemic and it is incumbent on all of us to help protect the NHS by staying at home and following the rules.

“All local authorities costs for administering the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme are covered by the Government, and each authority is empowered to make discretionary payments outside of the scheme.

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"£50 million was invested when the scheme launched, and we are providing a further £20 million to help support people on low incomes who need to self-isolate.

“We also recognise the impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health and wellbeing which is why mental health services have remained open throughout the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, Priti Patel told the No10 press conference on Thursday that fines would be ramped up for Covid rile breakers.

The Home Secretary said there will be fines of £800 for anyone attending a house party of more than 15 people in England from next week.

Ms Patel added: “The science is clear - such irresponsible behaviour poses a significant threat to public health.”

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