Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 1st December 2020.

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The First Minister:

At the moment, the grant is for low-income workers who are in receipt of universal credit or other benefits and who will lose earnings as a result of having to self-isolate. The two specific extensions will help more people. First, someone will no longer have to be in receipt of universal credit if the assessment of the local authority says that, if they applied for universal credit, they would be likely to get it. That will extend the number of people on low incomes who will be eligible for receipt of the grant.

The other extension, which, in some ways, is perhaps even more important, is to recognise the situation of some people on low incomes who will have to stop working for a period if their children are asked to self-isolate, in order to provide childcare for their children. At the moment, because the adult is not the person who is having to self-isolate, they are not eligible for the grant. From Monday, they will be eligible for the grant if their child is having to self-isolate. Again, that will extend quite considerably the reach of the support payment. I think that that will make it easier for people to do something that is inherently very difficult: to self-isolate for such a lengthy period.

We will continue to look for opportunities to strengthen the support that we are giving people so that we can continue to improve compliance with what is one of the most important restrictions—if not the most important restriction—that we are asking people to abide by at the moment.