Skip to content
#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Image: Sebadelha Julie/ABACA

UK considering a £500 grant per positive Covid test 'to incentivise quarantine'

The plan has been prompted by polling that indicates only 17% of people with symptoms are coming forward for testing.
Jan 22nd 2021, 7:51 AM 26,889 43

EVERYONE IN ENGLAND who tests positive for Covid-19 could automatically be given £500, worth around €560, as part of plans ministers are reportedly considering to boost quarantine compliance.

The proposal is said to be the “preferred position” of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), according to a leaked sensitive document seen by The Guardian.

The overhaul, the paper reported, has been prompted by the UK Government polling indicating that only 17% of people with symptoms are coming forward for testing, while just one-in-four comply with rules to self-isolate for 10 days after testing positive and 15% continue to go to work as normal.

The £500 handout scheme would cost up to £453 million per week – 12 times the cost of the current system.

The Resolution Foundation, a think tank which has previously calculated that only one in eight workers qualify for the financial support currently offered to those told to self-isolate, welcomed the proposal.

Its researcher Maja Gustafsson said: “The current approach is not fit for purpose, with statutory sick pay among the least generous of advanced economies and far too few people eligible for the £500 support payments.

“Swiftly putting in place a much more universal and generous system will make a real difference to controlling the spread of the virus.”

The DHSC said it would not comment on a leaked paper but did not deny that blanket self-isolation payouts had been mooted.

A British Government source suggested it was just one of many options being discussed as part of improving stay-at-home compliance for those who had tested positive.

“We are in one of the toughest moments of this pandemic and it is incumbent on all of us to help protect the NHS by staying at home and following the rules,” said a DHSC spokesman.

“All local authority costs for administering the Test and Trace support payment scheme are covered by the government, and each authority is empowered to make discretionary payments outside of the scheme.

“£50 million was invested when the scheme launched, and we are providing a further £20 million to help support people on low incomes who need to self-isolate.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to rule out the lockdown lasting until the summer, while Home Secretary Priti Patel said it was “far too early” to speculate on whether restrictions would be lifted in time to allow Britons a foreign holiday during the warmer months.

Patel also announced a new £800 fine for people who attend house parties with more than 15 people.

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland has confirmed its coronavirus lockdown is to be extended for a further four weeks to 5 March.

The British Government’s caution in announcing a timetable to ease the lockdown has sparked fears in the hospitality industry that ministers could be preparing to tell pubs and restaurants to keep their doors closed until May, despite the UK aiming to have vaccinated all the most vulnerable by next month.

As 1,290 further deaths were reported yesterday, and experts modelling the pandemic suggested there could be a huge surge in cases if restrictions were lifted too early.

Official figures up to 20 January showed 4,973,248 people had received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, an increase of 363,508 from the previous day.

Based on the latest figures, an average of 401,070 people a day will need to be vaccinated to meet the target of reaching the 15 million highest priority cases by 15 February.

Send a tip to the author

Gráinne Ní Aodha

COMMENTS (43)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a comment

     
    cancel reply
    Back to top