The UK government has announced that it will trial different methods of supporting those who have to self-isolate in areas with higher coronavirus infection rates. These pilots will be carried out in different regions in England, and each area will receive funding from a £12 million pot to facilitate the new methods of support. The pilot scheme is to be trialled in the hope that it will prompt more people to get tested for coronavirus and self-isolate if necessary.
The regions where pilots will go ahead are:
Yorkshire and Humber
Newham and Hackney in London
Cheshire and Merseyside
Royal Borough of Kingston
Lancashire, Blackburn & Darwen, Blackpool
Peterborough, Fenland and South Holland
Buddying services will be made available for those in need of mental health support and alternative accommodation will be provided for individuals in overcrowded homes. There will be translation and language communication support for those who do not speak English as a first language, in addition to social care support, including increasing support for vulnerable adults.
People in areas where the pilot support scheme will be trialled will not receive further financial support when self-isolating, though a £500 grant is currently available in England to those on low incomes who have to self-isolate. The Labour Party has called on the government to expand eligibility for the grant.
UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said: ‘Variants have the potential to be a Trojan horse for our hard won progress and it is more vital than ever that we do what we can to show them the exit door, following the rules and self-isolating when asked’.
The Health Secretary went on to add that the government ‘recognise[s] just how challenging self-isolation is for many people and these pilots will help us find the best ways to support people and making it easier for everyone to keep doing their bit’.