SDLP MLA for Mid Ulster, Patsy McGlone, has called on the Communities Minister to introduce a self-isolation support grant for people on low incomes who cannot work from home.
Mr McGlone said, “At present, workers on low incomes in the private sector who have to self-isolate because of COVID-19, and cannot work from home, are only entitled to Statutory Sick Pay of £95.85 per week.
“They may also apply for some Discretionary Support, but the amounts paid are small and have to be reapplied for week on week.
“For anyone in this situation this is adding more stress and uncertainty at a time when they will already be concerned about their health and future.
“A one-off COVID-19 self-isolation support grant is a more sensible and compassionate way of addressing the sudden loss of income that accompanies self-isolation for these workers.
“This is the approach followed in England, Scotland and Wales where a payment of £500 on top of any Statutory Sick Pay has been available since the end of September.
“This can make a huge difference for low-waged workers who may feel that they cannot afford to self-isolate for the 14 days required.
“The Barnett formula will apply to funding this scheme which means it can be introduced here at no additional cost to the NI Executive.
“The Minister for Communities must take the steps necessary to make the self-isolation support grant available here as soon as possible.”