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BRITAIN’S self-isolation sick pay was “far too low” and encouraged the spread of Covid, Matt Hancock told the Covid inquiry today.
Messages from the former health secretary showed he was supportive of making sick pay available from day one, rather than day three, in March 2020.
Under questioning from the Trades Union Congress (TUC), he added this would have however only solved half the problem.
The other half he said was “sick pay in this country is far, far too low.
“Before the pandemic, I’d been on an internal government campaign to significantly increase sick pay. I’d double it if I had a magic wand.
“We needed isolation payments from the start. We got them in the end by September. And I pay tribute to the Trades Union Congress for their campaigning on this issue, which helped me get it over the line.”
Mr Hancock further praised Frances O’Grady, then general secretary of the TUC, saying she was a “great service to the country in the role that she was in and she made an argument that I very strongly believed in.”
TUC assistant general secretary Kate Bell said: “Matt Hancock has let the cat out of the bag.
“The failure to provide proper financial support was an act of self-sabotage that left millions brutally exposed to the pandemic.
“The UK entered the pandemic with the most miserly rate of sick pay in the OECD. This cost us dear.
“As long-standing health secretary, Matt Hancock must take his share of the blame.
“But so should our Prime Minister who, as chancellor, chose to spend more on ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ than on supporting people to self-isolate.
“Enough is enough — it’s time to learn vital lessons from the pandemic. That means decent sick pay for all.”
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