Wirral MP blasts government minister over ignoring question about the low paid
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01 Dec 2020
Margaret Greenwood MP has hit out at the government’s Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, Justin Tomlinson, after he failed to answer her questions in the House of Commons about Statutory Sick Pay and the Test and Trace Support Payment.
The Wirral West MP asked the minister what assessment the government had made of the number of people who are ineligible for either Statutory Sick Pay or the Test and Trace Support Payment. Two million people are excluded from Statutory Sick Pay and, according to the leading independent think-tank the Resolution Foundation, seven out of eight workers will not qualify for the Test and Trace Support Payment of £500.
She also called on the government to extend Statutory Sick Pay to all workers, including the self-employed, and to raise the level of it.
The minister replied by simply saying: "Those required to stay at home by NHS Test and Trace could be eligible for the additional £500 of financial support if they are on UC, working tax credits, employment and support allowance, jobseeker’s allowance, income support, housing benefit or pension credit, and that is just part of our wider targeted welfare safety net."
Margaret Greenwood has now written to Justin Tomlinson asking that he responds to her questions as a matter of urgency.
Margaret Greenwood MP said:
“It is hugely disappointing that the minister failed to give a satisfactory answer to my question about support for people on low pay who need to self-isolate.
"This is nothing short of an insult to those people who are on low pay who do not qualify for either Statutory Sick Pay or the Test and Trace Support Payment and who desperately need financial support in order to be able to self-isolate without fear of going into debt.
“The government's failure to understand and address this issue risks seriously undermining the public health effort that the entire country is being asked to take part in.
“Back in March, as Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, I called on the government to extend Statutory Sick Pay to all workers, including those on low pay, and I also called on ministers to raise the level of it. The fact that I am calling for the same changes more than eight months on is profoundly disappointing.
"£95.85 per week is simply not enough if people are to stay off work through sickness and stay out of debt. It is also unfair that two million people are ineligible for Statutory Sick Pay. The government needs to take action to ensure all workers are entitled to sick pay when they need it.
“I have now written to the minister to ask that he responds to my unanswered questions as a matter of urgency.”
Information about how to apply for a Test and Trace Support Payment is available at https://www.gov.uk/test-and-trace-support-payment