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Thousands of families of care workers might be denied £60,000 government support

THE families of thousands of social-care staff in England could be denied a £60,000 government insurance payment for workers who die with Covid-19, alarming analysis suggested yesterday.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced in April that families of NHS and social-care workers who die after contracting coronavirus due to their work will receive a £60,000 payment.

But union Unite says it has identified small print in the policy which appears to exclude workers in private care companies that do not receive public funds.

The union called on Mr Hancock to clarify and rectify the situation urgently, as more than 300 NHS and social-care workers have died as a result of Covid-19.

Britain’s care-home sector is worth approximately £15.9 billion a year. About 5,500 providers run 11,300 care homes with some 410,000 elderly residents.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Matt Hancock needs to clarify what the small print actually means, as it is totally unacceptable that possibly thousands of social-care workers are barred from this scheme because their place of work has no public funding.

“We can’t have this two-tier situation where one care worker’s contribution fighting coronavirus is regarded of less value than another in a different setting.

“If you are risking your life in the battle against Covid-19 — your workplace and how it is funded are irrelevant.

“We don’t know the true scale of the problem across England – it could be that thousands of care workers are being denied this cover – but if it is only one, it is one too many.”

Ms Cartmail said that trade unions were not consulted in drawing up the insurance scheme’s eligibility criteria.

“If we had been, we would have objected in the strongest possible terms to what is now in place,” she said.

Ms Cartmail said the government had “righted a wrong” through its U-turn on making migrant staff in the NHS pay for treatment, but said: “This is another case where a ministerial rethink is in order.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said that privately funded social-care providers that are registered with the Care Quality Commission are covered.

Unite later said that it had been in dialogue with the department over the analysis but was still seeking a “definitive statement” on the number of care workers affected.

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