The increase to statutory sick pay (SSP) has been labelled 'pitiful'.

Both South Lakes MP Tim Farron and Barrow’s regional officer for Unite the Union, Gail Bundy, have criticised the 50p-per-week rise to SSP, which officially came in yesterday.

This equates to £96.35 a week for eligible workers but Mr Farron believes it does not go far enough.

He said: “This pitiful 50p increase is an insult to workers up and down the country.

“Until we get the vaccine rolled out to everyone, isolation is going to continue to play a big part in stopping the spread of the virus.

“But unless the Government puts its money where its mouth is and increases sick pay to a decent amount, then we know that tragically some people won’t be able to afford to stay safe.”

Ms Bundy, agrees with the Liberal Democrats MP and added: "The increase from £95.85 to £96.35 is pitiful and we are calling for contractual sick pay to be paid where it would normally be paid and a living wage of £9.50 (£10.50 – Greater London) to be given rather than SSP, so that no one is disadvantaged for doing the right thing.”

However, Barrow MP Simon Fell is pleased with the increase.

He believes that the new rate of SSP will offer an essential safety net to workers who need to self-isolate.

Mr Fell said: “I welcome this increase which sits alongside a comprehensive package of financial support in place for workers who need to self-isolate to help stop the spread of coronavirus. That includes a £500 payment for those on the lowest incomes who have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace.”