Pilot to tackle Covid-19 enduring transmission given Government green light

Posted on 24 May 2021

A pilot scheme to tackle Covid-19 transmission in South Holland where rates remain stubbornly high has been given approval by Government.

Rates in South Holland still remain higher than the national average, despite extensive work with communities and businesses. Like other parts of the country with enduring transmission, the working age population has the highest rate of covid-19 cases.

As a result, South Holland District Council along with Peterborough City Council and Fenland District Council, where rates are also persistently higher than average, submitted a proposal to Government for funding to provide additional support for employees and employers in specific sectors.

The Government yesterday confirmed that it has allocated £2.6 million to allow the pilot to be rolled out across the three areas over the next three months. It is the first pilot of its kind to be given the go-ahead by Government.

The bid will focus on:

  • Increased job security for many employees in the food production and packaging/warehouse sectors. Many employees fear they will lose their jobs if they self-isolate. We will work with key agencies such as the Gangmaster and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), engage with agencies and employers to support them to increase job security for workers self-isolating
  • 'Safe' transport for travel to work. We will pilot a limited network of COVID-safe public transport links across South Holland, Peterborough, and Fenland for the transportation of those living in rural areas to the workplaces that we are targeting
  • Improving accessibility to the £500 test and trace support payments as well as potentially providing additional payments in some circumstances where there is financial hardship.

Councillor Anthony Casson, South Holland District Council's Portfolio Holder for Public Protection, said: "We know that in South Holland, COVID-19 cases at times have been higher among front line workers such as those workers who are in the food production, manufacturing and packaging and warehousing sectors. These workers don't have the opportunity to work from home, therefore they are at much greater risk. The summer months especially in the food chain industries will create seasonal pressures for employers who rely on temporary workers.

"We also know some workers, particularly temporary or agency workers, may be fearful of testing or self-isolation due to concerns of losing income or employment. Other risk factors linked to these employee groups can include living in shared accommodation and travelling to work in shared transport, both of which can increase the risk of Covid spreading. 

"This pilot scheme will hopefully give these workers greater confidence in getting tested and give them the confidence to let their employer know that they have tested positive and to self-isolate if needed. It should also allow us to support employees to access safer travel arrangements."

Following Government approval, the councils are now putting into action the different aspects of the pilot so that work can begin with selected employers as soon as possible.