The coronavirus pandemic has effected us all in different ways and for many there will be a long lasting impact, particularly for those who have lost loved ones.
The consequences of pandemic has also continued to impact on people’s personal finances, particularly through loss of income. The Welsh Government has worked to keep people in work, through supporting businesses and the local economy, distributing over £1.7 billion to businesses.
Sadly there will be people who find themselves fallen through the gaps of support offered by UK Government. Whilst, individual employment support remains the primary responsibility of the UK Government, the Welsh Government has stepped up to step where possible. This has included expanding the Discretionary Assistance Fund to provide financial support to those who find themselves under extreme pressures, making sure people have money in their pocket to get by.
This week the Welsh Government’s Self-Isolation Support Scheme was launched, meaning that any one who has been told to self-isolate by Test, Trace, Protect, since 23 October can apply for financial support. The scheme includes a one-off payment of £500 for those who test positive for coronavirus and those who are asked to self-isolate due to being identified as a close contact, can apply up to two times.
The scheme will be administered by Flintshire County Council and those wishing to apply must meet set criteria which can be found at gov.wales/self-isolation-support-scheme. I am on hand to offer my support to anyone who has questions about the process or needs my support in applying.
I want to take this opportunity to remind Leader readers how important self-isolation is in preventing the spread of coronavirus. The Welsh Government has also introduced a duty to self-isolate which applies to both employers and individuals.
Under the new duty, employers have a responsibility to allow individuals who have been advised by Test, Trace, Protect to self-isolate, to do so for the required amount of time. This also applies to individuals who are asked to self-isolate, putting a legal duty on them to self-isolate for the required amount of time.
I also recognise the real financial pressures which the pandemic continues to have on people and families here in the constituency and right across the country. That is why I joined with Ministers from Scotland and Northern Ireland to write to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to push for more collaborative work at a UK level. We firmly believe that we need a joined up social security take-up strategy to ensure that everyone is aware of the financial support they are entitled to.
The letter also asks the UK Government to continue the £20 weekly uplift to Universal Credit past April 2021, when it is due to end, recognising that the financial impact of the pandemic on those with low incomes, will still be visible. For those who are interested, a copy of the letter can be found on my website – www.HannahBlythyn.cymru.
Poverty isn’t an issue which has surfaced because of the coronavirus pandemic but it has sadly exacerbated it.
The Welsh Government recently published a plan to ensure families’ income is maximised as much as possible to reduce child poverty. The plan includes measures such as providing financial advice to families, to help them manage their budgets and also access all benefits they are entitled to. It also means reducing the costs of transport and increase the uptake of breakfast clubs and free school meals, which also ensures children get a healthy, hot meal.
I would urge any readers who are facing financial difficulties to get in touch and I will do my best to share any information on financial support which may be of help for you. It is a challenging and sensitive subject, but it is important none the less.
If I can help, then please don’t be embarrassed, just give me a call on 01352 762102 or email me at Hannah.Blythyn@senedd.wales, and I will do what I can.