Leicester Mercury

Majority seeking Covid cash help turned down

- By AMY ORTON Local Democracy Reporter amy.orton@reachplc.com @amy__orton gov.uk

ALMOST two-thirds of the people applying for £500 Covid support payments in Leicester have not received the money.

Since the start of the Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme at the end of September, 3,564 claims have been submitted – and 1,218 payments of £500 have been made.

The scheme is administer­ed by the city council on behalf of central government and is available to people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and have to isolate, or those who have been contacted by Test and Trace and told they must isolate.

There are concerns the low number of people receiving the financial support could be contributi­ng to low compliance with Covid rules.

Rob Howard, consultant of public health for Leicester City Council, said: “A more generous system would definitely improve compliance and therefore slow the spread of the virus.

“A recent national study showed that 13 per cent of people who tested positive weren’t isolating at all, 16 per cent only isolated for between one and five days and 20 per cent of contacts didn’t isolate for the full 10 days.

“There will be all sorts of reasons for this, but one that we are concerned about particular­ly in Leicester is the financial impact of isolation.

“As a city we have a lot of key workers, low-paid workers, people on temporary and zero-hours contracts.

“All of these groups might not be eligible for the support, but people can’t afford to be off work.

“For some people this is a choice between isolating or paying their bills.”

A discretion­ary grant scheme was operated by the city council earlier in the pandemic, but Mr Howard said demand was high and the pot was soon empty.

Eligibilit­y according to gov.uk states the scheme is open to people who:

Have been told to stay at home and isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS Covid-19 app, either because they have tested positive for coronaviru­s or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive;

Have responded to messages received from NHS Test and Trace and have provided any legally required informatio­n;

Are employed or self-employed; Are unable to work from home and will lose income as a result of isolating;

Are currently receiving or are the partner of someone in the same household who is receiving at least one of the following benefits: universal credit, working tax credit, income-based employment and support allowance, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income support, housing benefit, pension credit.

For informatio­n on how to apply, visit:

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