Over 800 claimed virus isolation support cash
Hundreds of people in South Tyneside received financial support to self-isolate while coronavirus rules were in place, new figures show.
Since October 2020, people on low incomes could apply for a one-off £500 grant if they were required to self-isolate and could not work from home.
The Test and Trace support payment initiative ended on February 24 and UK Health Security Agency figures show there were 845 successful claims from people in South Tyneside up to February 16 – totalling £440,000.
Of these, 759 were handed out through the main Government scheme, with a further 86 in discretionary payments by the council.
It meant there were roughly 70 successful applications per 10,000 adults in the area – below the national average of 116.
The decision to scrap the payments and return to pre-Covid sick pay rules – paid from the fourth day of sickness rather than the first – has been criticised by the British Medical Association (BMA).
BMA chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “The removal of self-isolation payments, and then access to statutory sick pay in a months’ time, is incredibly concerning, as it will mean people cannot afford to stay at home if they are unwell.”
Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said: “The Government should now look at urgently fixing the sick pay system by making it equivalent to the real living wage and available from day one of sickness."
A Government spokesperson said the changes to sick pay were “temporary” and the Test and Trace support scheme, were to “to help people experiencing financial hardship if self-isolating”.