A new campaign will encourage those who have to self-isolate due to coronavirus to take up support offered to them, a minister has said.
Shirley-Anne Sommerville, the Social Security Secretary, said fresh material would make it “even more explicit” that help is available for those who needed it.
She spoke as Holyrood debated a Scottish Green party motion calling for the £500 self-isolation support grant to be made universal. It is currently only available to those on low incomes.
Ms Sommerville said making the grant universal would cost around £700 million a year, which could be better spent elsewhere.
She acknowledged there was “more to do” to ensure people were self-isolating when asked and said there would be a “further national media campaign to promote the support available”.
She added: “Public Health Scotland officials have also devised communication materials used as part of the contract-tracing service to be even more explicit that if you need support, it is there for you.”
The motion was brought by Green MSP Mark Ruskell, who said just 30% of applications for the £500 grant had been successful.
Other countries such as South Korea and Taiwan offered more generous support for those self-isolating during the pandemic, he said.
Mr Ruskell said: “With one in three not fully isolating when requested we need to do much more to support them.
“But there are concerning signs that the Scottish Government’s £500 self-isolation support grant is not getting to everyone.”
After the unamended motion failed to get the backing of parliament, Mr Ruskell added: “It is disappointing that SNP and Tory MSPs allowed an ideological opposition to universality to get in the way of providing people with the support they need if and when they need it.”
Scottish Conservative MSP Rachael Hamilton said there should be “more bespoke intervention” for vulnerable communities where people were not self-isolating.
Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton called for more support, saying: “The virus is punishing enough without people having to choose between following rules and being able to feed their families.
“So we do need to make it easier for people to self-isolate.”
Scottish Labour’s Pauline McNeill said her party would support Mr Ruskell’s motion, saying people on lower incomes would find it harder to self-isolate.
She said: “The phrase ‘we’re all in it together’ doesn’t feel like it for many people.
“While some are paddling, others are waist-deep.”
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