Sheffield's health chief criticises track and trace app for flaw which blocks £500 support grant

A councillor and Sheffield's health chief have criticised a flaw with the track and trace phone app which means people cannot claim £500 support.

Monday, 9th November 2020, 12:30 pm

Low paid workers who have to self isolate can get a Government grant for two weeks.

But if they are told to quarantine through the official NHS track and trace app, they cannot claim the money - it's only available if they speak to a human contact tracer.

Health chiefs already know that 80 per cent of people don't self isolate when told to do so.

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Greg Fell, Director for Public Health Sheffield.

Coun Adam Hurst told an online meeting: "I'm in the unfortunate position of having to self isolate because I was at Meadowhall and my phone had contact with someone else's phone in a shop and they tested positive.

"I won't name the shop but where it happened to be, we had been one metre apart and we were both wearing face masks and now I'm isolating on the basis of what my phone said to another phone.

"You have to trust me to stay at home but I'm not suffering any economic consequences. How can we encourage that cooperation from people? You also cannot claim the government grant if the app tells you to isolate."

Director of public health Greg Fell said people's ability to earn money was "undoubtedly the deal breaker" when it came to them self isolating.

"I can afford to self isolate, I have been working from the spare room for six months so another few weeks won't make a difference, but there are thousands of people who can't,” he said.

"If I'm on a low income or zero hours contract I have far less choice. There's a £500 payment available for two weeks but it's not enough.

"If you have to isolate via the app, you don't get the money which is a fault of the app. I hope this is being addressed by the Department of Health and the NHS track and trace."

The Department of Health said users of the app remain anonymous which means that currently, people are not eligible for the support payment if they are advised by the app to self isolate, but it was exploring ways to expand the payment scheme to include app users.

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