Matt Hancock has defended the Government’s new ‘pay to stay’ support for people who have to self-isolate, as a council leader in one of the pilot areas has branded them “a slap in the face”.

People on Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit will receive up to £182 a week if they are asked to quarantine, with a trial beginning in Blackburn with Darwen and Pendle in Lancashire, as well as Oldham in Greater Manchester.

Mr Hancock said the extra financial support was “set at the level of statutory sick pay”.

Asked if payments representing £13 a day were enough, Mr Hancock said they were “in addition” to other benefits that people on low incomes receive.

But Pendle Borough Council leader Mohammed Iqbal said the level of financial support is “not acceptable”.

The Labour councillor told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: “The figures that the Government have introduced are really a slap in the face for those people who sadly test positive and there is no incentive in my opinion for those people to self-isolate.

“If you’re a manual worker who’s not able to do their job from home, normally getting paid the living wage or the minimum wage, the Government are now going to say to you we’ll pay you £4.55 an hour. Not acceptable.”

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham agreed, saying the payment “goes nowhere near far enough”, adding people need “full pay”.


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