Test and Trace Support Payment
If you have been told by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate either because you have tested positive for Covid-19 or you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, you may be entitled to some financial support during your self-isolation period.
One of the requirements to receive this payment is your legal duty to self-isolate. If we suspect that you are not self-isolating we will pass this information onto the police who may issue a fixed notice and you will also be required to pay the funds back.
Parents or guardians who are not legally required to self-isolate can now also apply for a Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment if they need to take time off work to care for a child or young person who is.
This page contains information on:
- Who is eligible
- Eligibility criteria
- How to apply
- The Council's discretionary payment scheme
To be eligible you must meet all of the following criteria:
You have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace either because you have tested positive for Coronavirus, have recently been in close contact with someone who has or are looking after a child who has been told to self-isolate and you need to take time off work.
- You comply with the NHS Test and Trace notification to self-isolate
- You are employed or self-employed
- You are unable to work from home and will lose income as a result
- You are in receipt of one of the following benefits: Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit.
You will not be eligible for this scheme if you:
- Are quarantining after travelling abroad (unless you test positive during the 10-day quarantine period)
- Continue to receive full wages while you self-isolate;
- Can work from home during a period of self-isolation;
- Have not received a notification from NHS Test and Trace telling you to self-isolate.
These payments will be subject to income tax but not National Insurance contributions. Eligible people will be able to claim for each period of self-isolation. Fines for those breaching self-isolation rules will start at £1,000.
Parents/guardians applying for the payment must also meet all the criteria below:
- you are the parent or guardian of a child or young person in the same household and need to take time off work to care for them while they self-isolate. This is limited to one parent or guardian per household for the child or young person’s self-isolation period.
- you are employed or self-employed.
- you cannot work from home while undertaking caring responsibilities and will lose income as a result
- you meet all the other means-tested eligibility criteria for a Test and Trace Support Payment or locally determined criteria for a discretionary payment
- your child or young person:
- is aged 15 or under (or 25 or under with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC) and normally attends an education or childcare setting.
- has been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or by their education or childcare setting because they have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Eligible? Apply online:
Please note: post payment checks will be carried out to prevent fraud and to identify whether you continue to receive income from your employer during the self-isolation period. If it is established that you have continued to receive full pay whilst self-isolating, we will take action to recover the costs from you.
After reading the information provided, apply via the online form here.
What if I'm not eligible?
Checks will be put in place to detect and prevent fraud to ensure this funding goes only to those who are in fact eligible. Any payment made as a result of fraud may be subject to claw back, as well as any grants paid in error.
If you are not receiving one of the above benefits but are on a low income and self-isolation will cause you hardship, or you do not currently have Recourse to Public Funds, you may still be entitled under a special discretionary scheme.
Discretionary scheme criteria
We will consider making a £500 discretionary payment to individuals who:
- Have been told to stay home and self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, either because they have tested positive for coronavirus or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive
- Are employed or self-employed
- Are unable to work from home and will lose income as a result
- Who are not 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
- Are on low incomes and will face financial hardship as a result of not being able to work while they are self-isolating or have no recourse to public funds, if they meet criteria above
Income of both applicant and partner will be taken into account in deciding any discretionary payment.
We will consider applications outside of these criteria in exceptional circumstances, where households would be facing severe financial hardship without an award of £500.
To be considered for the discretionary scheme you need evidence that:
- Your household is on a low income. We will look at whether your level of household income for the period of self-isolation would normally be eligible for state benefits.
- You have basic living costs that you cannot meet such as rent/mortgage, food, fuel etc. and don’t have savings or other income to meet these costs
- You are unable to work from home and will lose income
You will not be eligible for this scheme if you:
- are quarantining after travelling abroad (unless you test positive during the 10-day quarantine period);
- continue to receive full wages while you self-isolate;
- can work from home during a period of self-isolation;
- are no longer required to self-isolate i.e. your period of self-isolation ended before the scheme was launched on 28th September 2020;
- have not received a notification from NHS Test and Trace telling you to self-isolate.
Universities will support their students experiencing hardship during this pandemic. If a university is unable to assist financially, students can apply provided they meet the eligibility criteria - students will not receive a payment under this scheme if they don't meet the criteria.
How to apply for the Track and Trace support payment
Applications for the support payment will be open via our website. You must apply within 42 days from the date you are told to self-isolate. To apply, you must provide:
- Your 8-digit NHS Test and Trace reference
- A copy of your latest bank statement (issued in the last two months). This can be a photo but must clearly show proof of earnings
- Proof of self-employment such as a recent business bank statement (issued in the last two months), most recent set of accounts or evidence of self-assessment returns
- To consent for us to access your records in the NHS Test and Trace system to confirm your eligibility. Read the NHS Test and Trace privacy notice.
- To consent to us verifying your loss of income, which will involve us contacting your employer.
- Your National Insurance number.
If you have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace and have been told to self-isolate and you fit into the eligibility criteria above, you will qualify for a backdated payment as long you apply within 42 days from the date you are told to self-isolate.
What happens now?
The Government is supporting local councils to make the necessary checks to ensure payments can be verified and have been made correctly.
We will review your application and carry out the necessary checks with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), for verification purposes, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), for tax purposes, and NHS Test and Trace to confirm your self-isolation status.
We will aim to make a payment within three working days of an eligible application being verified.
We understand that the application process can seem complicated. We've compiled a list of queries below that will help with questions you might have.
Q: What is the aim of the Test and Trace Support Payment?
A: The Test and Trace Support Payment has been introduced in response to feedback from local authorities and directors of public health that some of their residents were struggling to self-isolate as directed due to financial constraints. It is to help ensure that people on low incomes self-isolate when they test positive or are identified as a contact, and to encourage more people to get tested. This will help to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and avoid further societal and economic restrictions, including local lockdowns.
Q: Any time limit for claimants on making applications?
A: You need to make claim within 42 days of the date you were told to self-isolate
Q: What reference number is needed from Contact Test and Trace?
A: The NHS Test and Trace Account ID is an 8-character identifier unique to each customer (e.g. 4a2c204a) (If you are a parent or guardian of a child who is told to isolate because they are a close contact of a positive case, you will not receive this reference number)
Q: Can a customer apply without a reference number?
A: No, customers will have been provided with a unique 8-digit ID reference, if they have been asked to isolate by NHS Test and Trace. Applications made without this reference will be refused.
(However, If you are applying as a parent or guardian of a child told to isolate because they are a close contact of a positive case, you will not need this number to apply)
Q: If someone is instructed to self-isolate on more than one occasion are they given a different 8-digit ID for each self-isolation period?
A: Yes, a new ID is issued for each self-isolation period, the unique ID is linked to that isolation period and not the person.
Q: Can an individual claim more than once? If so, is the process the same as the initial claim?
A: Yes, provided the eligibility criteria are met on each separate occasion and the self-isolation period for which they are claiming doesn’t overlap with a previous self-isolation period. The process should be the same as for any other claim.
Q: What about multiple claims from households – will this be allowed?
A: Yes, provided each applicant meets the relevant criteria.
Q: If a person has been advised to self-isolate by someone other than NHS Test & Trace will they qualify for support?
A: No. The customer must have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace and been issued with a unique 8-digit reference.
Q: What is the expected timescale for processing applications and making payments?
A: The aim is to make payments within 3 working-days of receipt of a completed application form. (if criteria are met and any supporting evidence is provided).
Q: How are NHS Test and Trace notifications verified?
A: We will be able to verify the unique ID number against data from NHS Test & Trace Service.
Q: What information is sought to verify employment/self-employment?
A: Applicants will be asked to provide proof of employment such as a recent payslip, if they are self employed, evidence of self-assessment returns and trading income. A recent bank account covering the last 2 months.
Q: Is there a right of appeal against each decision?
A: There is no right of appeal. People who are refused the payment will not be eligible because they don't meet the criteria. We will work with applicants to make sure they provide the necessary evidence to support a successful application.
Q: How are these payments treated in respect of other benefits – Housing Benefit and Universal Credit etc Are they to be treated as earnings, or disregarded?
A: These payments will be disregarded when calculating entitlement to other benefits.
Q: Is the Test and Trace support payment based upon low income only, or are savings also taken into account?
A: The Test and Trace support payment is not based upon your level of earnings or savings, just upon whether you meet the four qualifying criteria mentioned above. If an application is made for the discretionary scheme, we would likely take into account the level of income and savings as it is a payment to support those experiencing financial hardship.
Q: Will these payments be taxed?
A: These payments will be subject to income tax. They will not be subject to National Insurance contributions. We will work with local authorities on the appropriate process to ensure that central government can collect income tax.
Q: What if a customer is overdrawn?
A: If a customer is overdrawn, they can contact their bank to exercise their first right of appropriation and ensure the money isn’t used to pay the overdraft. The recipient would have to write a letter to the bank to explain that they were expecting a £500 payment (the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment), and how they would like to spend the money. This protection is called a 'first right of appropriation of funds order'. An example is below: "On or around 25th October 2020, my £500 Test and Trace Support Payment is due be paid into my current account number 0101010101. I am exercising my first right of appropriation over these funds and wish you to pay the following items from it: ...
Keep a copy of the letter in case there is any dispute later. You may want to ask your bank/building society for a written acknowledgement of your instructions. If there are any items you no longer want to pay from your account, or which you cannot afford, you should give your bank separate cancellation instructions. This is because the first right of appropriation does not stop the bank paying items as well as those you have listed. If you do not cancel these items, your bank may return the items as unpaid, which they may charge you for. However, payments from your account to re-pay a loan with the same bank cannot be cancelled.
Additional FAQs for parent and carers:
Q: Can someone claim of they can work from home and look after child?
A: No this is outside the scope of the scheme
Q: How do we determine a setting is a legitimate setting
A: Any setting registered with local authority
Q: I have 2 children sent home but dates overlap - can I make 2 claims?
A: No as dates overlap like main scheme only one payment due
Q: I share custody with my ex- partner can we both claim or who should claim?
A: The person looking after the child for the 10 days should claim child should not be moved between households
Q: What mitigations are in place to stop someone creating their own letter?
A: The pre/post payment check with schools will confirm child's identity and requirement to self-isolate