Disagreement among experts over the government’s move to pay £500 each to those affected by COVID-19 in England
LONDON: Disagreement among experts over the government’s proposal to provide £500 financial assistance to all those affected by COVID-19 in England. Some sources also raise suspicions that giving money to all those who are COVID positive will be a burden to the government treasury.
A group of experts warned the government that people would try to catch the disease in order to receive £500. The policy was introduced on January 19 by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
George Eustice, the environment secretary has said the British government has not yet made an official decision on whether to pay £500 to everyone in England who confirms positive for COVID- 19.
Although it costs £453 million a week, the British media reported, citing a policy paper they showed, that the government was considering such a move to encourage more people to be tested for the new coronavirus.
The offer has been described as the “preferred position” of the health secretary Matt Hancock. The new concept is considered to be part of the planned revision of the self-isolation support scheme. He said the plan would be considered by the government’s coronavirus operation committee in the next few days.
Various experts share the concern that the universal payment program could be adverse. They also point out that the move could prompt the public to become infected with the virus. Assuming 60,000 infections a day, this universal payment would cost the Treasury up to £453 million a week. This is 12 times the current scheme.
A Treasury source says opinion polls have shown that the most common cause of self-quarantine failure is not money, but the easing of COVID symptoms, and boredom or loneliness. They added that paying £500 a month would not solve the problem.
Maja Gustafsson, a researcher at the Resolution Foundation, said the current approach was not appropriate for the purpose. Duncan Robertson, of Loughborough University’s School of Business and Economics, said the policy would have unintended consequences. At the same time, Prof. Stephen Reicher, the government’s coronavirus adviser, said universal payment was an “essential element of our pandemic response”.
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