Self-isolation payments blasted by Tory councillor as ‘incentive’ to catch Covid-19

John Fuller, Conservative Leader of South Norfolk Council, appeared on Thursday’s episode to discuss whether people need increased access to the self-isolation payment scheme. The Government offers payments of £500 to some people ordered to self-isolate after being told to by NHS Test and Trace, depending on whether they meet a set of criteria.

Referencing a study published in the British Medical Journal showing issues with abiding by Test and Trace orders to self-isolate, where one of the biggest issues causing low abidance is financial hardship, host Kristy Wark asked “isn’t that something to be taken seriously?”

Cllr Fuller replied: “It is to be taken seriously, but let’s flip it the other way around.

“Let’s not have a system whereby if you catch Covid you get £500.

“That’s an incentive to actually spread the disease and that’s not in anybody’s interest.”

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Ms Wark interjected and questioned “are you really saying that”, to which the Tory leader suggested local councils are better suited to the job of supporting those self-isolating.

He added: “What I’m saying is that ‘let’s not have the incentive’, I didn’t say it was. Let’s not have an incentive that would encourage people to catch the disease.

“Our job is to bear down on it as quickly as we can. When Test and Trace falls away local councils are better and faster and more effective at bearing down on this at street level, at a family level.”

“Ninety five percent of the cases that national Test and Trace finds too difficult are now solved in our county, Norfolk.

“That’s the best way to beat this disease, and to help those who need the help and who need the attention where it’s best applied rather than prophylactically over everybody.”

Steve Rotheram, Labour Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, also spoke on Newsnight to flag issues with the scheme, claiming “70 percent of people who apply for financial support are rejected”.

He added: “(Cllr Fuller) said that local councils are better placed to deal with this and that’s right, but the problem is about 70 percent of people who apply for financial support are rejected, and that is data from local councils of which he has some responsibility for.

“Now that’s not out of bloody-mindedness, that’s out of the onerous nature of the restrictions that the Government have placed on self-isolating patients.

“And the more people that we can get to do the right thing, to take those two weeks out if they’ve been contacted through Test and Trace, the better but for many people this is a Sword of Damocles decisions.

“This is about either taking two weeks off, potentially with no money whatsoever, or to go out and earn enough money to put food on the table.”


In order to qualify for the £500 payment for self-isolating, people in England must be told to stay home by Test and Trace and provide all requested information, be employed, be unable to work from home and receive benefits or be on low income.

The UK has administered 35,660,902 doses of coronavirus vaccine, of which 31,147,444 are first and 4,513,458 are second.

Yesterday saw another 4,479 cases and 51 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.

In total, the UK has recorded 4,350,266 cases and 126,764 deaths.

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