Bolton councillor calls for more Government funding for isolation payments

THE Test, Trace and Isolate system needs “serious improvement and more government funding” in Bolton, according to a Labour councillor.

The latest figures show Bolton’s coronavirus infection rate is the highest in Greater Manchester.

Outbreaks in the workplace are being blamed for the rise as Bolton was named as just one of 10 areas in England to experience a week-on-week rise in new cases.

Health bosses believe many people in Bolton are in jobs that cannot be done from home, increasing the risk of coronavirus spread ­— and are working with employers to introduce asymptomatic testing to prevent it.

It comes as it was revealed around 70 per cent of people who apply for financial support to self-isolate due to Covid-19 are rejected, according to data from half of all England’s councils, amid warnings of a “gaping hole” in the government’s approach to the pandemic.

Cllr Sue Haworth, Labour’s health lead, said: “Isolation payments of £500 are only applicable to people on low income like benefits, which is causing so many refusals for the payment requests at Bolton Council.

“The Government needs to step in and increase the provision of isolation payments urgently.

“Many people cannot afford to isolate, putting themselves and others at risk.

“We need a much more robust and fairer system for isolation that works here if we are going to break these coronavirus rates.”

A study of 171 local councils found only 36,000 people received a one-off £500 payment out of more than 120,000 applications. And in a quarter of council areas, 90 per cent of people were turned away.

In the week to February 6, Bolton recorded 829 new positive cases of coronavirus, an infection rate of 288.3 per 100,000 residents.

Research by the public health team had found infection rates were highest amongst the oldest age groups and people of working age ­— and recent outbreaks in workplaces and care homes have also contributed to this rise.