Eligibility for the Scottish Government’s coronavirus self-isolation support grant is being expanded, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister said criteria for the £500 payment will soon include parents on low incomes whose children have been asked to self-isolate and people who would be eligible for Universal Credit, even if they do not claim it.
Under the current rules, employed people on benefits who have been asked to self-isolate can claim the money if they lose income as a result.
But Ms Sturgeon explained that from December 7, eligible parents of children under 16 who are unable to work because a child has to isolate would also qualify for the payment.
The expanded criteria will also include those who local authorities believe would qualify for Universal Credit if they applied.
Ms Sturgeon told the coronavirus briefing: “Children will sometimes be contacts and will sometimes therefore be advised to self-isolate.
“Self-isolation is a crucial way in which we can stop people who have the virus – or who might have the virus but aren’t yet infected – from going out and about and transmitting it to others.
“So it’s an important contribution that we all might need to make at some time and it’s important that when we are advised to do so, we follow that advice.
“But we recognise that self-isolation for a period of 10 or 14 days is a really tough thing to be asking people to do and is particularly tough for people on low incomes who might not be able – or be less able – to work from home and be less likely to have access to statutory sick pay.
“We don’t want anyone to feel that they’re having to choose between self-isolating and feeding themselves and their family, so I hope today’s expansion of the support grant will help more people do the right thing if they or their children are asked to self-isolate.”
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “We introduced this grant at unprecedented speed, and I am grateful for the work of Cosla and councils to ensure it is up and running.
“While self-isolation can be difficult for everyone, we know there are particular financial barriers to complying faced by some people.”
Cosla’s community wellbeing spokeswoman councillor Kelly Parry welcomed the changes, and said: “Council staff across the country have been working really hard to ensure the grant is accessible to people who have experienced a loss in income after being asked to self-isolate.
“By extending the eligibility for the grants, more people will be helped to stop the spread of the virus over the winter period.”