Covid-19 has hit the most vulnerable in society the hardest, with recent figures suggesting half a million UK households are in danger of becoming homeless as a result of the economic impact of the crisis, while half a billion could be plunged into poverty worldwide.
Now new research has highlighted the struggle of those told to shield at home due to underlying health conditions, who are facing plummeting incomes and possible redundancy due to a “flaw” in the government’s guidelines.
An investigation by Citizens Advice showed that four in ten (41 per cent) of those in the shielded group have lost at least 20% of their income since the start of the coronavirus outbreak – with more than a quarter (27 per cent) losing 60 per cent or more.
The charity is warning that people face a catch-22 due to government guidance which advises 2.5 million people who are “extremely clinically vulnerable” to shield at home, along with their family members, until at least the end of June – but does not oblige employers to furlough them.
Analysis of around 2,000 of all employment cases Citizens Advice has seen since April 14 showed over 70 per cent of those who are shielding or are at higher risk from coronavirus – such as those who are pregnant or have diabetes – were not furloughed.
Concerning figures showed that 12 per cent of the shielded group are working outside of the home despite the potential risk to their health. Frontline Citizens Advice staff working with those in the shielded group report that they do so out of fear of losing their jobs if they try to negotiate with their employer.