The government has announced a new package which will be introduced to support those on lower incomes who would lose out on income if they had to self-isolate.
The move comes after it was announced that people who repeatedly fail to self-isolate could face fines of up to £10,000.
This is everything you need to know about the Test and Trace Support Payment.
What is the Test and Trace Support Payment?
From Monday 28 September, people will be required by law to self-isolate following a positive test result for Covid-19, or if they have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace and instructed to self-isolate.
New fines for breaking self-isolation rules will begin at £1,000, which is in line with the penalty for breaking quarantine after international travel. This could increase up to £10,000 for those who repeatedly fail to self-isolate, and for other “egregious breaches”, including preventing others from self-isolating.
For example, this includes business owners who threaten self-isolating staff with redundancy if they do not come into work.
A number of steps will be taken to ensure that people are complying with self-isolation rules, including:
- NHS Test and Trace call handlers making regular contact with those who should be self-isolating, with the ability to escalate any suspicion of non-compliance to local authorities and local police
- Using police resources to check compliance in highest incidence areas and in high risk groups, based on local intelligence
- Investigating and prosecuting high profile and egregious cases of non-compliance
- Acting on instances where third parties have identified others who have tested positive, but are not self-isolating
As emphasis on self-isolation grows, the government has also announced the introduction of the Test and Trace Support Payment of £500.
The £500 will be payable as a lump sum and will be paid via bank transfer.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “While most people are doing their absolute level best to comply with the rules, I don’t want to see a situation where people don’t feel they are financially able to self-isolate.
“That’s why we’re also introducing a new £500 Test and Trace Support Payment for those on low incomes who are required by NHS Test and Trace.”
The Test and Trace Support Payment will be available to those who are required to self-isolate from 28 September. The scheme will run until 31 January 2021.
Who is eligible to claim the £500?
The government states that “just under four million people who are in receipt of benefits in England will be eligible for this payment.”
To be eligible to claim the Test and Trace Support Payment, you must:
- Have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, either because you’ve tested positive for coronavirus or have been recently in close contact with someone who has tested positive
- Be employed or self employed
- Be unable to work from home and will lose income as a result of self-isolating
- Be currently receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit
While you must self-isolate if you have symptoms of Covid-19, you will not be eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment unless you have a positive Covid-19 test, or have been specifically asked by the NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate.
A claim can be made for each period of self-isolation required, so if you are required to self-isolate on more than one occasion, you can make a new claim for each instance of isolation.
All eligibility criteria and supporting evidence must continue to be provided and met.
How to apply for the payment?
You will be able to make an online application for the payment - or alternatively a telephone application if you cannot apply online.
You will need to submit the following as supporting evidence:
- A notification from NHS Test and Trace asking you to self-isolate (this will include a Unique ID number)
- A bank statement
- Proof of employment, or, if you are self employed, evidence of self assessment returns, trading income and proof that your business delivers services which cannot be undertaken at home
The briefing and Q&A document for local authorities states that the government will “agree with local authorities on Monday 21 September the most efficient and effective way of enabling people to make online applications - and how to manage applications from people who cannot apply online.”
The government said, “Local authorities will be working quickly to set up these self-isolation support schemes and we expect them to be in place by 12 October.
“Those who start to self-isolate from 28 September will receive backdated payments once the scheme is set up in their local authority.”
A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title Sunderland Echo