People self-isolating in overcrowded housing will be offered alternative accommodation in new pilot schemes being rolled out across England
The initiative is one of several being trialled by the UK government in nine areas with higher Covid infection rates.
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The aim of the scheme is to help people living in overcrowded conditions to follow government guidance, which requires those who have tested positive for coronavirus, or been in close contact with someone who is infected, to complete a period of self-isolation.
The pilots will provide social care, “buddying” services for people needing mental health support, and translation assistance for non-English speakers.
An £11.9 million funding pot will be split between local authorities in nine areas of England as part of the scheme, in an effort to encourage people to get tested and self-isolate when required.
The pilots will be carried out in local authority areas including Newham and Hackney in London, Yorkshire and Humber, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Merseyside, Peterborough and Somerset.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Variants have the potential to be a trojan horse for our hard-won progress and it is more vital than ever that we do what we can to show them the exit door, following the rules and self-isolating when asked.
“We recognise just how challenging self-isolation is for many people and these pilots will help us find the best ways to support people and making it easier for everyone to keep doing their bit.”
Targeting local outbreaks
The government has already backed a pilot scheme across the Greater Manchester region, investing £2 million of funding to assess ways of helping people to self-isolate.
The scheme includes “support and engagement teams” who work with households within 24 hours of a positive coronavirus test to develop a bespoke plan for self-isolation.
The investment into self-isolation support comes following a report from Public Health England (PHE) and King’s College London in April which found that only 18 per cent of people in the UK get tested if they have Covid symptoms, and just 43 per cent stick to self-isolation rules.
The most common excuses for breaking self-isolation guidelines included going to the shops or work, a medical need other than coronavirus, and to care for a vulnerable person.
James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “Rapidly targeting local outbreaks and supporting people to self-isolate when required is absolutely crucial to our continuing fight against coronavirus.
“These pilot schemes will provide further insight into what works best in supporting those who test positive and their contacts to do the right thing to protect themselves, their families and their wider communities.
“All councils continue to use their unique local knowledge and connections to reach out to areas where they are most needed, working with government in our joint national effort to stop the spread and keep case rates as low as possible as we look towards a return to our normal way of life.”