DOZENS of applications for discretionary £500 payments to help people self-isolate in Barrow have been rejected, figures suggest.

The grant, targeted at workers not eligible for the main Test and Trace Support Payment because they do not receive benefits, helps people with coronavirus on low incomes to self-isolate if they cannot work from home.

But figures obtained by the Labour party show more than 70 per cent of applications across England were rejected, as the Government denied claims that it was planning to extend the payment to everyone who tests positive for Covid-19.

A Freedom of Information request showed 99 applications were made to Barrow-in-Furness Borough Council.

Of these, 84 were rejected and 12 were granted – with the rest left outstanding.

The figures included all applications made in Barrow from the scheme's launch on September 28 up to December 13, when the FOI was submitted – but Labour said the figures may include some after that date.

Of the 49,900 applications made to the 200 local councils which responded to the FOI, 35,400 were rejected, with just 12,000 accepted – though success rates varied significantly.

MP Steve Reed, shadow communities secretary, said: “This Government’s serial incompetence is forcing many workers to choose between protecting their health and putting food on their families’ tables.

“Councils are going above and beyond to help those on low incomes to self-isolate but they are being hampered by overly strict criteria and inadequate Government guidance."

Anti-poverty charity Turn2us urged the Government to review funding for the scheme, as well as the eligibility criteria, so families can stay afloat.

Sara Willcocks, head of external affairs, said: "It is ludicrous for the Government to ask people to self-isolate but not provide everyone affected with a replacement income for the work they will be missing out on.

"Without the correct financial support, people are faced with an impossible choice: isolate and financially struggle or risk spreading the virus, and breaking the law, to avoid being dragged into poverty."