The government hasn’t just abandoned northern England in lockdown – people at high risk have been left without adequate support
As coronavirus cases rise, headlines are dominated by northern leaders being forced by central government to accept inadequate financial aid packages. This is a shameful dereliction of duty by the Tories and is rightly attracting ire, both from regional mayors and the press. And yet it is striking that a similar thing is being done to another group – shielders – but with even less attention. New guidance for shielding for people at high risk because of underlying health conditions was released by the government last week, but without even a small offer of financial support. The new guidance advises “vulnerable people” in high alert areas to stay at home as much as possible, but offers no support to help them cope with paying the bills or accessing food and medicine. Even in the highest alert areas, if shielders are unable to do their jobs at home, the guidance only says they “may” be eligible for some benefits.
What’s happening to people with underlying health conditions and communities in the Midlands and north are not two separate issues but clearly overlap. Boris Johnson’s second-wave strategy is consistent: restrict people’s livelihoods but offer little or no government funds to survive that. With state support schemes closed, shielders in locked-down Leicester are surviving on food brought by volunteers. Class status is also linked to disability: disabled people are more likely to be in poverty, poor housing and insecure jobs.
Read more: theguardian.com