Discretionary Self Isolation Payments stopped as Government funds run out

Published Wednesday 16 December 2020 at 14:53

The council has been administrating two schemes to give financial support to those that are asked to self-isolate.

The national scheme will continue to support those asked to self-isolate who are employed/self-employed, in receipt of welfare benefits and incurring financial loss, but Blackburn with Darwen Council can no longer offer discretionary self isolation payments to residents under other criteria as the Government funding for this has run out.

The Council has called on the Government to carry on funding the discretionary grants.

The Council was given just £51,000, enough for just over 100 payments to fund a Discretionary Scheme but this was all paid out in November and has been using money from its own resources to top this up, but this is no longer sustainable.

It was hoped that the government would top-up the Discretionary Fund as a stop-gap measure, but we have now been informed that more funding will not be forthcoming. This means that the scheme will have to be closed until more funding is made available.

The payments covered people who could prove financial loss as a result of having to self-isolate and who normally earned less than the median salary for Blackburn with Darwen.

Councillor Ron Whittle, Senior Assistant Executive Member for Finance and Governance, said:

The funding of £51k only covered just over 100 payments so we ran out of the government funding a couple of weeks ago, which is hardly surprising given the rates of infection in Blackburn with Darwen. The payment covers those who test positive and those who have to self-isolate because they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, which has driven up the number of applications.

We tried our best to carry on with the payments using our own funds but we could not carry on doing this, simply put, we do not have the money. The money was given by the Government with the assumption we would receive around four applications per day, but we were getting more than 25 every day. We have worked with other councils to lobby the Government very hard for more funding but none has been provided. We did not want to be in this position but there is no other choice.

We are not alone in this, many other Councils have also run out of the funding with no more on the horizon. Unfortunately it means the extra layer of help for people having to self- isolate will not be there.

It is vital that more funding is provided as soon as possible, not only to help people self-isolating and to avoid hardship, but to help get our case numbers down by allowing people to isolate and reduce the spread.”

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