Skip to main content

Self-isolation: Financial Barriers

Volume 690: debated on Monday 8 March 2021

What assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the financial barriers to people’s compliance with the requirement to self-isolate; and if she will make a statement. (913005)

The Government have delivered an unprecedented package of support during the pandemic. Where eligible, financial support for those self-isolating in line with Government guidance includes access to employment and support allowance, universal credit, statutory sick pay and the test and trace support payments scheme, depending on individual circumstances.

The scientists on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies have said that many people are still not self-isolating for financial reasons. What assessment has the Department made of the means-testing involved in the £500 payment? Does the Minister not agree that this should go, and that everybody should be eligible for that £500 payment, because we cannot allow a stop-start recovery as we come out of lockdown? Secondly, does he agree that statutory sick pay is pathetically low for those jobs that are eligible for it, and that there are far too many jobs where people do not even get basic statutory sick pay?

While the £500 test and trace scheme payment is rightly targeted at those most in need, we have also provided local authorities with £35 million for discretionary payments, and we will continue to provide local authorities with a further £20 million per month while this scheme carries on. The rate of statutory sick pay should not be looked at in isolation because, depending on eligibility, people may also be able to claim universal credit or new-style employment and support allowance, and the majority of employers pay more than the statutory minimum.