More needs to be done to support people who have to self-isolate, says Armstrong

Alliance Communities spokesperson Kellie Armstrong MLA has supported a call to improve the level of support for people who have to self-isolate as a result of COVID-19.

The Independent Scientific Advisory Group (ISAG), alongside trade unions and organisations in the community sector, have written to Ministers to seek support to encourage people contacted by track and trace to self-isolate, as some are unable to afford to stay away from work while isolating.

“If a person self-isolating cannot work from home, they will drop down to sick pay, which for many is less than £100 a week, which can be a huge loss of income,” said Strangford MLA Ms Armstrong.

“Some may decide they cannot afford to self-isolate and risk being in work. The COVID-19 discretionary support scheme has not helped as many people as it should have, with the level and variation of discretion resulting in people in need being refused emergency financial support.

“Scotland has a self-isolation support grant and I believe we should have the same here, moving to a more distinct and transparent system where the criteria is open to all who cannot work from home and who need to self-isolate.

“The proposal by ISAG – of a £800 flat rate for the self-isolation period, with the maximum qualifying income individualised and increased to £28,000, the median annual income for Northern Ireland – would be a great way to help those in financial crisis, while also helping the health and safety of our society as a whole.”