“The test and trace programme needs financial safeguards”
County Councillor Julie Gibson, the Lancashire County Labour Group Shadow Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration has backed calls from trade unions, community groups and the self employed, for financial safeguards for workers who are forced to quarantine under the newly announced NHS Test and Trace programme.
Cllr Gibson said: “In Lancashire, we are still seeing a small rise in cases and the Test and Trace programme has been introduced as a further way to control the coronavirus; I hope it is up and running as soon as possible. However, I am concerned that many workers may be pushed into financial hardship if they are required to self-isolate and if they can’t afford to do so, they may continue working putting themselves and work colleagues at risk.”
She continued: “If a worker tests positive, their entire workplace could be closed overnight, plunging many of their co-workers into financial crisis too. Statutory Sick Pay is currently just £95.00 per week and there are two million workers and many self employed people who aren’t even eligible for that.”
Cllr Gibson said: “I back the calls to Government to introduce some financial safeguards into the Test and Trace Programme:
- To extend sick pay to cover all workers, and to raise it to the level of the real Living Wage, £260 per week.
- To retain the income support scheme as a source of financial support for those self-employed workers who are forced to self-isolate.
It is enough of a shock to receive news that you have Coronavirus symptoms; to then find out that you could be financially worse off is a double blow and one that could potentially plunge many people into poverty at the most worrying time of their life.”