The First Minister may “fine tune” the Covid-19 Self Isolation scheme to make it easier for parents of children forced to self-isolate to claim money after pressure from the Rhondda Member of the Senedd.
Leanne Wood put the FM on the spot during a plenary session when questioning him about the fact that working parents are unable to claim any money if they are forced to take time off to look after children forced to self-isolate.
With many school pupils being forced to self-isolate due to contact with a positive case through school, many parents have been left out of pocket if their employer does not allow them to work from home or allow paid leave for childcare. The fear is that with Christmas around the corner, many families will be put on the breadline unless the Labour Government makes the self-isolation scheme more flexible.
During First Minister’s Questions, Leanne said: “The coronavirus isolation scheme has finally opened after much delay, but it will not provide much comfort for the parents of children who have to self-isolate.
“Only people formally told to isolate by the track and trace teams are eligible for payment, and this is no good for a parent without childcare who has to take time off work to look after a child who has been ordered to stay at home. There is also no right of appeal if an application is refused.
“Given the discretionary assistance fund is usually only applicable to people without savings and facing destitution, and that very few employers give paid leave to people to look after children, many parents will be facing poverty by the inflexibility of the coronavirus self-isolation scheme as it is applied in Wales.
“I keep arguing, First Minister, that you need to make it as easy as possible to enable people to self-isolate, so how are you going to remedy this particular problem?”
In reply, the First Minister said: “I'm happy to look at the points that the Member has raised, of course, and if there are things that we can do that will make the scheme fit better with individual circumstances of the sort she described, then I'm very happy that we should do so.”
He added: “If there is more that we can do as experience of the £500 emerges, and particularly if we need to fine-tune it to make sure that the needs of children are taken into account, then I'm happy to say to the Member that I'm very willing to do so.”
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