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Government must increase self-isolation support to ensure vaccine success, think tanks urge

THE government must increase self-isolation support to ensure the success of the vaccine rollout, think tanks the Nuffield Trust and Resolution Foundation said today.

Researchers warned that boosting compliance with self-isolation rules is critical to resist the threats posed by new variants of coronavirus and rising cases as restrictions continue to ease.

The two think tanks proposed a modified version of the Job Retention Scheme that would allow employers to apply for capped grants to cover the lost wages of any employee needing to self-isolate.

Self-employed workers should be able to access similar levels of support through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, the report adds.

The proposal would cost the government £39 million a month if it were to cover 100 per cent of wages capped at an equivalent of £2,500 a month, equal to the cap within the current furlough scheme.

This cost would be equivalent to roughly 3 per cent of the government’s budget for the NHS test-and-trace system.

Nuffield Trust senior fellow Sarah Reed said that support for people self-isolating has been a “blind spot” in the government’s response to the pandemic.

She warned that there were risks ahead as case numbers were expected to rise with further easing of lockdown restrictions.

Resolution Foundation chief economist Mike Brewer said: “The UK’s failure to financially support workers who need to self-isolate has severely hampered efforts to curb the spread of the virus.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth agreed that ministers could not afford to ignore calls to introduce “proper” sick pay, adding: “Without fixing this gaping hole in our defences, we risk undermining the work done to bring the virus under control.”

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