Can people afford to self-isolate? If they can't, breaking covid chains of transmission is all but impossible. So what is the data saying? We've been looking into Self Isolation Support Payments - latest piece @BBCNewsnight tonight - the upfront £500 for people who must isolate
The eligibility criteria to get the money include needing to be receiving in-work benefits, employed or self employed & asked to self isolate by NHS Test & Trace or its equivalents. Our figures from councils who administer the scheme show many applicants are being turned down
71.9% have been rejected in Calderdale, 77% in Liverpool, 70% in Dudley, 57% in Barnsley, 49% in Leeds. Across the Yorkshire Humber region, they've had 30,652 applications and rejected 61% - so what's happening? Clearly there is huge demand, but access to the scheme is difficult
@londoncouncils told us there'd been 'a significantly higher number of applications than originally forecast' - 15,000 in Dec across 23 London boroughs, compared with 4000 in Oct & Nov. That's 'slowing down payment processing' & hence'the likelihood of residents self-isolating'.
Councils must work within the eligibility rules set by Government, although they also have access to discretionary payments. The Gov is spending £70m on the Support Scheme - but is it improving self-isolation rates? We know the biggest driver for not isolating is low income.
@DeborahHarkins Director of Public Health in Calderdale told us financial hardship is preventing people from self isolating. With the new more contagious variant spreading, she says it's even more crucial that people are encouraged to do so if they test positive/are contacted
Critics of the Government say in light of the huge financial hardship Covid is causing, the criteria need to be expanded to include low paid people who are above the threshold for benefits. @LGAcomms are calling for an 'urgent review' of who is eligible.
We've spoken to staff working in care homes in recent days who say they have turned off the tracing app because they can't afford to be traced as a covid contact. They will only get SSP if they have to self-isolate as they don't qualify for the £500 support
It's an agonising decision for people who take their professional responsibilities very seriously. One told us: "It’s unfair and we should never be put in that position. Carers know by doing that they could potentially harm someone else. We have seen people pass away."
A home care worker in NW England spent 2 weeks on SSP after being pinged by the app. She says: "You’re being penalised for doing the right thing. I haven’t left the app on again because I can’t afford to be off work." @DeborahHarkins says these stories are familiar
She says "it’s a real worry and it’s undermining our control strategy". She also talked of council staff being 'overwhelmed' by the number of applications. She said they'd been told to expect 4-6 applications a day, what she termed an 'enormous underestimate'
What impact is this having? The latest data on whether people are self isolating is from Sage from August. It found only 18% of those asked to were fully following the rules. We understand that number is now up to 30% - so 7 in 10 people are not staying at home when they must.
But as we've been asking all week on Newsnight: What happens if personal means and circumstances make compliance impossible? If you cant afford to self isolate, or take time off work? If you're the only breadwinner and you're too scared to take a covid test.
The Government has extended the scheme for people on low incomes until March. It points out councils can also access a discretionary scheme for others who aren't eligible. It estimates up to 4m people could be in line for upfront £500 to help them isolate. Will it be enough?

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More from @katierazz

23 Nov 20
Thoughts for what's it's worth on mass testing after a day or two in Liverpool. Our story on @BBCNewsnight tonight reveals that the testing pilot is failing to reach the poorest communities in the city. In some parts, only 4% of residents have turned up to be tested
@DanCardenMP the MP for Walton, a deprived part of the city, relays his belief that people can't afford to self-isolate so don't want to find out they may have the virus. He says the criteria for the Gov's self isolation grant are too tough & 80% of applications are rejected
We know Covid preys on the poorest households; across the country those in overcrowded housing and people who do high risk, people-facing jobs in transport, food production & supermarkets have been badly hit. If you support asymptomatic testing, these people need to be reached.
Read 10 tweets
11 Nov 20
Tonight on @BBCNewsnight we're reporting on @Calderdale local Covid test & trace system, set up in mid-August after an outbreak in central Halifax. At that point the national NHS Test & Trace was only reaching 2/3 of positive cases in this part of West Yorkshire.
The local scheme gets details of cases once the national one (run for the NHS by private contractors) hasn't reached them for 24 hours. It's got successful tracing up to 95% with a combination of local knowledge, making calls from local nos not 0330 & boots on the ground
Even so, Calderdale's Covid cases are very high (442 per 100,000). We know T&T is only part of the answer (& not much good once prevalence rises) but if Lockdown 2.0 is the breathing space needed to get back on track, here are the takeaways for how things might improve...
Read 11 tweets

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