Council draws up plans to provide financial support and groceries for people self-isolating
PUBLISHED: 08:00 04 September 2020
Plans to provide financial support and groceries for people self-isolating are being drawn up for Cambridgeshire.
The measures are part of a wider package of support being worked on by Cambridgeshire County Council.
The support package will be based on an assessment of each individual’s needs, and is part of “ensuring full compliance with the NHS Test and Trace programme”.
Those with a positive Covid-19 test, those with symptoms, or those who have had contact with the virus may need to self-isolate for 10 to 14 days. Full details of when to self isolate are available on NHS and government websites.
A report endorsed by the council’s communities and partnership committee on Thursday (September 3) said that, although self-isolation is generally for a period no longer than 14 days, it “must commence immediately upon contact.
This will mean that for many people they will not have the opportunity to shop for provisions or make arrangements for other household requirements. They may have caring responsibilities too, or be in a job that makes it difficult for them to self-isolate, or even prevents them from earning a wage.”
It adds: “We are anxious that there may be some people that are not able to self-isolate for financial reasons, and yet the need to self-isolate is essential to reduce the impacts of the pandemic.”
The council report says the work is an extension of the coordination hub set up to provide support across the county when the pandemic first started to impact on people’s lives. The hub works with staff and volunteers across councils and other groups and has provided support for some of the most vulnerable in the community throughout the pandemic.
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The funding for the “financial hardship scheme” will come from the government’s test and trace service support grant, the council report says.
“The model in development would see referrals for financial support coming in locally, through whatever means appropriate, but then passed to the countywide hub team for determination,” the report says.
Cambridgeshire’s support hub has already been providing food and other supplies, support with shopping and household chores, and even a befriending scheme to reduce isolation and anxiety.
Details of the financial support that could be available are not yet available, but the communities and partnership committee heard that certain industries where workers cannot work from home or may be on zero-hours contracts, such as manufacturing and agriculture, will be the focus.
“The risk of not managing the infection rate is greater than the risk of the support being exploited,” has been one of the principles behind the hub’s work, the report says, although it adds “significant work has been undertaken to design the scheme so that it is not exploited or abused”.
The report also says people are encouraged to build their own support networks, but also says support must not be too difficult to access so that people disengage.
The report says “this wide range of support arrangements remains in rapid development”.
The council is working on wider plans on how it might reintroduce shielding should the need arise.
It is also calling on the government to give greater control of the county’s test and tracing over to local teams, citing a higher success rate in reaching people who may have been exposed to the virus.
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