According to various sources, Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, has been arguing for an increase in Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). This was reported in the Human Resource Review on March 20th (https://www.hrreview.co.uk/hr-news/matt-hancock-allegedly-pushing-for-an-increase-to-statutory-sick-pay/132639). In the Independent on the 20th March, it was reported that:“The health secretary Matt Hancock has admitted he couldn’t live on the UK’s statutory sick pay amount of £94.25 a week” When asked directly if he could live on statutory sick pay, he replied: “No.” Statutory sick pay is less than a fifth of the weekly average earnings for British workers, which in December 2019 stood at £544 a week.
Furthermore, many people are not eligible to receive statutory sick pay, such as part time workers who earn less than £118 a week – 70 per cent of whom are women.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) estimates there are two million workers in the UK who are not eligible for SSP (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/coronavirus-uk-statutory-sick-pay-matt-hancock-question-time-covid-19-a9413821.html).
Today (06/04/1921) we learned that SSP has been increased by 50p a week – from £95-85 to £96-35. Sure you can spare it! One can only assume that Mr Hancock thinks that the 50p increase to SSP is inadequate. As Health Secretary, he will know that the low paid are not self-isolating in sufficient numbers if they get the virus because they can’t afford to. This is prolonging the pandemic.
Hancock is a hypocrite. His own department has locked staff on key anti-Covid contracts into the same low SSP that he argues is insufficient. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) was approached by the Private Eye (issue No 1544 p14)and asked why it did not insist that staff working on the privatised Test and Trace facilities it funds get occupational sick pay instead of SSP. It replied that the information was commercially sensitive. The truth is that Hancock was knocked back by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, because increasing SSP or insisting that all workers get occupational sick pay would be too much for employers.
The ruling class does not get killed by Covid but the working class does and that is because we are expendable!