New research from Labour shows families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 while they worked on the frontline will be stripped of their social security payments.
Under the NHS and Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme, the £60,000 lump sum given to the families of NHS and social care workers who die after contracting coronavirus is being treated as capital in means-tested benefits.
This means that, under current rules, a family entitled to Universal Credit, Housing Benefit or Pension Credit would lose their entitlement.
Despite the UK recording among the highest number of COVID-19 health worker deaths in the world, with at least 540 health and social workers having died from COVID-19, only 19 families have benefited from the scheme. There is confusion over how to claim compensation for the loss of a loved one as a result of Coronavirus, with many such as the Royal College of Nursing and British Medical Association calling for it to be better advertised.
Labour is calling for payments made to people to be disregarded in the same way as other compensation schemes such as the Windrush Compensation Scheme or those who hold a Victoria or George Cross.
Labour have previously called for the £16,000 upper capital limit to be removed during coronavirus, as claims for Universal Credit soar to 5.5 million amidst the crisis.
Jonathan Reynolds MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said:
“Health and social care workers are putting their lives on the line to care for coronavirus patients, often without the proper equipment, and many have sadly lost their lives as a result.
“The Government was right to say we must honour those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. So it is shocking that families are being forced to choose between accessing social security they are entitled to or the compensation they need.
“This must change so that families can grieve in peace with the full support they have every right to expect.”