Bolton Labour Group Leader Councillor Nick Peel has revealed that out 2,267 applications from Bolton people for the Hardship Fund offering one off grants of £500, only 655 people were successful.
Cllr Peel said, “We have faced the problem on Bolton of workers being too scared to self-isolate, as they feared financial problems as a result of doing so. I wanted to dig deeper into looking at some of the reasons behind this, because we had all been told that a Hardship Fund was a available to people to help them isolate.
“When I received the figures I was shocked to see that 1,612 people were rejected by Bolton Council because they didn’t fit a criteria that was too strict.
When you see that only a third of applicants were successful in receiving assistance, is it any wonder that those who were supposed to be isolating were reluctant to do so. Many of these 1,600 people have gone into the workplace through financial necessity and this has undoubtedly led to an increase in workplace infections in Bolton.”
According to data released by the TUC, the restrictive criteria for the fund has led to patchy take ups from around the country, with wealthy southern areas of England, like Rochford and Torridge agreeing more than 70% of applications. The average uptake, like Bolton has been 30%.
Cllr Peel concluded “I hope that we are through the worst of this pandemic now, but we still have some time to go, and employees and businesses are still going to be struggling. The Governments stingy criteria for these isolation grants isn’t an old story that’s now passed; its still very relevant now, and they urgently need to review their criteria.”