02/04/2021 12:29 BST

Tory Councillor Says £500 Self-Isolation Payment Could Be 'Incentive' To Spread Covid

John Fuller, a senior Tory council leader, has come under fire for claiming the £500 payment could encourage people to catch Covid-19.

PAUL ELLIS via AFP via Getty Images
Shoppers pass beneath an electronic sign promoting the NHS Covi-19 app, outside the Arndale Centre in Manchester.

A Tory councillor has come under fire after suggesting £500 Covid-19 self-isolation payments would be an “incentive to spread” the virus.

John Fuller OBE, who is the Conservative leader of South Norfolk Council, told BBC Newsnight on Thursday: “Let’s not have a system whereby if you catch Covid, you get £500.

“That is an incentive to actually spread the disease, and that’s not in anybody’s interests.”

When asked by host Kirsty Wark, “Are you really saying £500 is an incentive for people to spread the disease?” he replied: “What I’m saying is... let’s not... I said let’s not have the incentive, I didn’t say it was, let’s not have an incentive that would encourage people to catch the disease.

“Our job is to bear down on it as quickly as we can.”

His words were condemned by Liverpool metro mayor Steve Rotherham, who described the suggestion as “shocking” and “an insult” to the people who have died as a result of Covid-19. 

People who have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace are entitled to a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment.

But Labour has said the payment – which can be claimed by those who cannot work from home but need to isolate – should be available to everyone without access to workplace sick pay.

The Test and Trace Support Payment applies to both employed and self-employed people in England, but there is concern that some people who need it are unable to access it.

On Thursday’s BBC Newsnight, the Liverpool mayor cited figures showing 70% of applications for the payment were being rejected.

“There is no one-off £500 payment that would convince anybody, even on low pay, to actually get Covid,” he said in response to Fuller.