Portsmouth residents welcome proposed £500 Covid testing and isolation payment

PORTSMOUTH’S residents have welcomed reports that ministers are considering giving £500 to everyone who tests positive for Covid but are concerned about how it will be policed.

Sunday, 24th January 2021, 10:37 am

While the payment is already available for people on low incomes or who cannot work from home, reports have emerged the government are considering making it more widely available to both increase the number of people coming forward for testing and then adhering to quarantine regulations.

Concerns over compliance have been raised following government polling which indicated only 17 per cent of people with symptoms are coming forward for testing, while just one in four comply with rules to self-isolate for 10 days after a positive result.

Shop worker Chloe Pulman, 18, wished the payment had been available two months ago when she tested positive for Covid.

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Emma Cotterell, 27, feels people shouldn't need a payment to 'do the right thing'. Picture: Habibur Rahman

She said: ‘I had to isolate for two weeks and the payments would have been really useful. I didn’t realise I could have been eligible until it was too late. However I followed the rules anyway as it was the right thing to do.’

DJ Brian Hodges, 45, added: ‘I think it’s a good idea as people who don’t have a lot of money may be reluctant to come for a test as they can’t afford to lose their earnings. If I had symptoms I would go for a test anyway, even without the payment. I have a mother who is 70 and I wouldn’t want to risk passing it on.’

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Student Einars Darzins, who also works in a factory, feels the payment will act as an incentive to increase compliance.

Chloe Pulman, 18, wished the £500 payments had been available when she tested positive for Covid two months ago. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Einars, 22, said: ‘It’s a good idea but if someone loses their income for two weeks the payment may not be enough to cover the bills going out. If I had symptoms I would get tested anyway but I understand why someone may not do so if they can’t afford to miss out on earnings.’

While Sarah Cordell, 52, welcomed the proposed policy she feels the system could be open for abuse.

She commented: ‘I think this would encourage more people to come forward for testing but I do think some people would abuse it by going to different centres and providing false details to get more than one test and payment. Also once people get their payment how do you police it if people are following isolation rules?

Barry Hodges, 45, believes the payment would act as an incentive but said he would go for a test anyway. Picture: Habibur Rahman

With taxpayers ultimately having to fund what could be up to a £453m per week scheme, furloughed Wetherspoons employee Emma Cotterell believes people should not need financial incentives to comply with testing and isolation rules.

Emma, 27, said: ‘I don’t think you should have to pay people £500 to do the right thing and isolate – people should do it for their own health and to protect the vulnerable. However I do understand this may be financially difficult for some people.’

Colleague John Durman, 28, added: ‘The payment would be enough to cover me financially but for someone with a family and more outgoings it would not be enough.’

A senior government source said the idea of extending the £500 payments to everyone who tests positive had been drawn up by officials and had not been considered by the prime minister.

Sarah Cordell, 52, believes the £500 payment would act as an incentive but feels the system could be open for abuse. Picture: Habibur Rahman

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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Einars Darzins 22, and partner Evelina Kladere, 21. Einars belives the payments are a good idea but may not be enough to cover the lost earnings for some people. Picture: Habibur Rahman
A Covid testing site at Lysses car park in Fareham in October Picture: Sarah Standing (151020-5905)