Government Considering Universal £500 Payment To Anyone Testing Positive For Coronavirus
A leaked document from the Department of Health revealed a number of suggestions aimed at encouraging people to complete their period of self-isolation following a positive test.
At present, a £500 payout is available to anyone on a lower income who has to self-isolate, cannot work from home, and is losing income as a result.
There are fears the current measures are insufficient and some people working in low paid jobs cannot afford to isolate, which means that the UK government's current package of support is not working.
That means some people who have tested positive are out and about in the community, which creates yet more cases within that community, driving the rates of infection ever higher.
The environment secretary has confirmed that arguments against and in favour will be discussed and weighed up by a cabinet sub-committee.
The report states that: "Anyone who tested positive for Covid-19, irrespective of their age, employment status or ability to work from home, would be eligible for TTSP [Test and Trace Support Payment].
"This would be straightforward for local authorities to administer, though it would lead to significantly greater volumes of applications than under the current scheme."
Introducing a universal £500 payment for those testing positive could currently cost as much as £453 million each week, which is 12 times the cost of the current payouts.
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However, there are suggestions those current payments are leading to those in low income jobs refusing to isolate for fear of losing money and becoming behind on bills and payments.
According to BBC News, the UK government is well aware that self-isolation is crucial to the efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and therefore an 'options paper' has been created by the civil servants working for the Department of Health.
It will be discussed by the Covid operations committee, chaired by Michael Gove. This could be an admission from the government that too many people are refusing to self-isolate, leading to an increase in cases that needs addressing quickly.
It is already a legal requirement for anyone testing positive to self-isolate. A £500 grant is already available to those on low incomes who test positive, but - according to figures obtained by the Labour Party last week - rejection levels have been high among those who have applied.
Three quarters of the 49,877 applications between October and December 2020 were rejected, those figures showed.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Environment Minister George Eustice said: "We've got to consider all sorts of policies in order to make sure that people abide by the rules, are able to abide by the rules and we get the infection rate down."
He then confirmed the cabinet sub-committee would 'weigh up the arguments for and against this before making any decision'.
The UK recorded a further 1,290 deaths and 37,892 positive cases on Thursday (21 January).
Featured Image Credit: PA
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