South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis, Yorkshire and Humber TUC Regional Secretary Bill Adams, and Doncaster Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Dan Fell have jointly called on the Chancellor to use the Budget to increase Covid-19 isolation payments and let workers and businesses do the right thing to support our economic recovery.

Commenting, Mayor Jarvis said: “Dido Harding recently told Parliament that there are an estimated 20,000 people every single day who cannot afford to do the right thing and self-isolate because they had symptoms or have been told to by NHS Test-and-Trace. Large parts of the South Yorkshire economy cannot work from home and are at greater risk for contracting Covid in the workplace.

“The Chancellor should use the Budget to increase the level of self-isolation payment and widen the eligibility criteria to cover everyone ineligible for occupational sick pay. This would mean that workers in South Yorkshire do not face the invidious choice between doing the right thing by their community and protecting their livelihoods.

“Failure to act risks a divided recovery, one that further entrenches the inequality that has held our region and our country back for far too long. It is in the best interests of workers and businesses to get this right, keep the virus under control and support our economic recovery.”

Commenting, Bill Adams said: “No one should be forced to choose between doing the right thing and being plunged into hardship. The current system of patchy self-isolation payments and paltry sick pay just isn’t working.

“Too many low-paid workers here in Yorkshire and Humber are going without the financial support they need to self-isolate.

“Councils that are spending hand over fist to help keep families afloat need to be fully funded by the Government.

“The Government could fix the problem tomorrow by offering decent sick pay to those required to self-isolate. Ministers must stop turning a blind eye and raise statutory sick pay to at least the real Living Wage. And they must ensure that everyone has access to it.”

Commenting, Dan Fell said: “The vast majority of the region’s businesses have acted incredibly responsibly for the last twelve months putting mechanisms in place to keep their staff and their customers safe.  This is on top of the incredible sacrifices have made in light of a significantly depressed economy.  The end of this terrible pandemic is in sight but we know, based on the data in South Yorkshire, that there is still significant health risk in South Yorkshire and our numbers remain stubbornly high; we have also seen a worrying number of outbreaks in local businesses.

“I would urge businesses to access the free testing that is available to them, to ensure that social distancing is robust in offices, factories and warehouses and also to continue to reach out to support agencies like Chambers, Councils and the Growth Hub for advice and guidance.

“Government has presented its roadmap out of lockdown but failed to adequately reassure businesses and their employees about the support measures that will be in place until and after lockdown lifts.  We would therefore urge the Government to be generous in its support for businesses and individuals affected by Covid in the budget next week so that unwell people can afford to self-isolate and so that now hard-pressed business owners do not feel compelled to take any unnecessary risks.”