Martin Lewis appeared on This Morning today, where the Money Saving Expert was asked for his views on the NHS Test and Trace issue. Today, it emerged 618,903 self isolation alerts were sent between July 8 and July 15, a 17 percent increase from the previous week.
As workers and savers across the UK are left with few options, they may have no choice but to turn to the Government for support during this period.
Martin was questioned on this and fortunately, he noted there are a number of support plans in place to help with this.
Martin began by addressing what help is there for employees: “Well, if you can work and you’re an employee and you’re working from home because you’ve been pinged and you can’t go to work, then you are entitled to the working from home tax rebate.
“I’ve talked about [this] before where if your employee requires you to work from home then you can claim a tax rebate worth £6 a week.
Martin went on to break down what help is available to the self-employed: “The self-employed fifth grant is open for applications at the moment, and there’s a clause in there that says if you were previously trading but unable to trade, due to the pandemic, that is one of the criteria that makes you eligible for the grant, and I have had it confirmed that self isolating due to being pinged would qualify under that criteria.”
Martin concluded on what support there is for those on Universal Credit and/or particularly low incomes.
Martin detailed: “There’s also a £500 self isolation payment for those on low incomes,Universal Credit types.
“Now, that sounds good and being pinged does count for that.
“It’s administered by local councils, many have run out of funds, you should try it.
“But off the record, I’ve been told by some people administering it in local councils, the way it’s been organised is a mess. So I think it’s something to try, but not something to rely on.”
Self-isolation restrictions have caused chaos across the UK in recent weeks and reportedly, the Government is planning to alter the rules to ease pressures on the economy.
Ben Willmott, the Head of Public Policy for the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, recently commented on this and urged the Government to act.
Mr Willmott said: “In light of fast-growing staff shortages, the Government should urgently review the criteria under NHS Test and Trace which requires anyone who has come into close contact with a positive Covid-19 case to self-isolate for ten days. The review should consider the merits of changes such as ‘test and release’ whereby staff who have been asked to self-isolate could return to work if they subsequently have two negative PCR tests over five days. This could potentially continue to protect the public while being more flexible to the needs of business.
“CIPD poll data shows that nearly six in ten (57 percent) HR professionals said their organisation faced staff shortages in the last month because of employees self-isolating after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace. This problem is only going to grow as the economy continues to open up after restrictions end, with the risk that disruption to organisations’ services and operations starts to have severe consequences for the public and business.
“In the meantime, employers will have to be flexible to cope with absent workers and mitigate against staff shortages by freeing up staff from less business-critical areas and using temporary workers where possible. Inevitably, businesses may have to compromise service at times to ensure guidance is followed.
“Many employees will be anxious about rising infection levels, so employers need to be mindful of the risks not just to physical health but also their employees’ mental wellbeing. Employers should continue to encourage people to work from home where possible, to reduce the number of contacts their staff have in the workplace or when travelling to work. For roles where employees need to be in the workplace, organisations should continue using measures to reduce staff contact, such as staggered start and finish times. Employers should also review layouts and consider the continued use of screens or barriers to reduce the number of people their workers come into contact within the workplace, or the wearing of masks as people move around.”