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Covid-19: Support for People Self-isolating

Volume 678: debated on Monday 29 June 2020

What support her Department provides for people required to self-isolate as a result of exposure to covid-19 who are not eligible for statutory sick pay. (903901)

We have made changes so that statutory sick pay and employment and support allowance are payable to people who are self-isolating, including those who are shielding and who satisfy the conditions of entitlement. We have removed the waiting days, so these are paid from day one, and households may also be able to claim universal credit.

But the lowest-paid in this country and about 3 million self-employed and others are excluded from what is already one of the lowest rates of statutory sick pay in Europe. As test and trace is stepped up, many of those will be told to self-isolate, potentially multiple times, so how does the Minister propose that we can emerge safely from lockdown if people are not supported in these circumstances? What is he going to do about this group?

In addition to providing support through statutory sick pay, we are expecting employers to do the right thing, and we will be working with employers to make sure employees can transition back to work safely. That is underpinned by the Equality Act 2010, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Health and Safety Executive will continue to provide proactive guidance to employers.

At DWP questions on 11 May, I asked the Minister whether his Department would increase legacy benefits, such as employment and support allowance, to help shielding and disabled people cover the increasing costs of basic items such as food, toiletries and personal protective equipment for themselves and their carers. Seven weeks on, can the Minister update us on how much progress his Department has made? As we move towards planning for a potential second wave, it is vital that we get this right.

As a Department, we have rightly put an additional £6.5 billion into welfare support, on top of the £500 million hardship fund provided to local authorities. I welcome the further additional £63 million to boost council welfare support so that no one goes without food and other basic necessities in the coming months.