Health Secretary, Matt Hancock faced a furious backlash today after plans were leaked, allegedly from his Department, to hand-out to everyone who has to self-isolate £500. This leaked official proposal were initially published in The Guardian. Costing an estimated £450 million a week, the aim was to encourage more people to not only undergo testing but also, if required through contact with an infected person, to self-isolate to halt the spread of the new variant of Covid-19.
The idea of giving everyone £500 who self isolates was specifically targeted at encouraging more people to isolate amid fears over compliance levels. Detailed in an official policy paper, The Daily Mail reported that this was the ‘preferred position’ of Matt Hancock’s Department of Health.
Today’s Mail On Line said that Treasury officials had commented that the £500 payment was ‘not going to happen’ and alleged that they had ‘zero idea’ how Mr Hancock allowed it to get traction. ‘Just bonkers. The whole country will suddenly develop a dry cough,’ one said.
The PM’s official spokesman today said there was already a £500 payment available for those on low incomes who cannot work from home and have to isolate. He denied the government was planning to introduce the new payment, telling the BBC ‘We’ve given local authorities £70m for the scheme and they are able to provide extra payments. That £500 is on top of any other benefits and statutory sick pay that people are eligible for.’ However, fears remain that the current financial support is not working because low paid workers cannot afford to self-isolate.