CIPD has called on the government to urgently review its £500 compensation scheme for working people asked to self-isolate.
The professional body for HR and people development, found that, overall, just one in three (35%) claims for financial support by people asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace are being paid out by local councils, as revealed by Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.
The requests (sent to 34 local authorities in England in November 2020) have suggested that many people who were asked to self-isolate could fail to receive the financial support they need, which could potentially undermine the effectiveness of the NHS Test and Trace system.
The CIPD’s analysis of 34 FOI requests to local authorities across England showed that just 36% of applications for support payments made by working people who also claim benefits have been approved.
The data also showed a wide range in the proportion of applications for support payments approved, with Camden Council approving 75% of applications, Liverpool approving 23% and Sandwell Council approving just 16%, for example.
Ben Willmott, head of public policy for the CIPD, said: “Our FOI data suggests there is currently a postcode lottery on whether working people on low income receive financial compensation when they have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. Lack of financial support threatens to significantly undermine the system at a time when the need for people to safely isolate at home is greater than ever before.
“The Government should urgently review its operation with a view to ensuring consistency over the criteria used by councils for granting compensation payments. It must ensure that the eligibility criteria isn’t overly strict, ruling out deserving applicants who are trying to do the right thing and self-isolate under the Government’s own advice. This is increasingly important with the recent announcement to test key workers who are unable to work from home.”
He added: “The review should also consider how the compensation scheme can be marketed more effectively to those told to self-isolate and, importantly, whether there is enough money allocated to councils to ensure the compensation scheme has sufficient funds for the months ahead given the surge in the pandemic and the latest lockdown.”