Test and Trace Support Payment
From 28 September 2020, there was a legal duty in England, for all those who test positive for COVID-19 or are identified by NHS Test and Trace as a close contact, requiring them to self-isolate.
The government is providing funding for a new Test and Trace Support Payment scheme. This one-off taxable payment of £500, was scheduled to run from 28 September until 31 March 2021. The government has now extended this scheme to 30 June 2021.
The government announced a third lockdown for England on 4 January 2021. As was the case with the lockdown in November, the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme is only for people who will lose income because they can’t work as a result of having been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. Therefore, if you are unable to work due to lockdown or tier restrictions you will not be eligible for this scheme, even if you have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.
This payment is designed to support people on low incomes, if they lose income as a result of self-isolating, and to encourage them to get tested if they have symptoms. This is important to help stop the transmission of COVID-19 and avoid further economic and societal restrictions.
Eligibility for the Test and Trace Support Payment
Please first refer to the Standard Scheme Policy.
To be eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment, an individual must meet all of the following:
- have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or via the NHS COVID-19 App, on or after 28 September but not before that date, because:
- they have been notified that they have tested positive for Coronavirus, or
- they have been notified that they have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive
- have responded to messages received from NHS Test and Trace (which will have been received via a combination of email, text, letter or phone call) in which you provided your contact details and where you have tested positive, the details of your contacts
- be employed or self-employed
- be unable to work from home and will lose income as a result, and
- be currently receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit or Pension Credit.
From 29 March 2021, if you are not currently receiving one of the incomes detailed above, but you meet all the other eligibility criteria, you may be eligible for a Discretionary Test and Trace Support Payment if you also meet the following criteria in full:
- must have normal gross earnings of between £89 and £385 per week - gross earnings are before any income tax, national insurance, pension contributions or any other deductions have been made
- will have a loss of earnings for the period of self-isolation
- savings (this includes money in current account) must be less than £1000
- must not be a full-time student
- must demonstrate that the household will suffer financial hardship by having to self-isolate.
There is fixed and limited funding for the Discretionary Scheme and therefore the Discretionary Scheme will close before the Standard Scheme, if funding is exhausted.
Parents and guardians who have not been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace
From 8 March 2021, parents or guardians who are not legally required to self-isolate can 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.
Applicants must meet all the criteria below:
- they are the parent or guardian of a child or young person living 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
- they are employed or self-employed
- they cannot work from home while undertaking caring responsibilities and will lose income as a result
- they meet all the other means-tested eligibility criteria for a Test and Trace Support Payment or the criteria for a discretionary payment
- their 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
- the child/young person 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.
From 22 March 2021, for a claim to be considered, we must receive the claim and supporting evidence within 42 days after the first day of self-isolation. We will be unable to accept a claim received after this point.
Eligible individuals who are told to self-isolate more than once, may make a claim for a further self-isolation period as long as the individual meets the eligibility criteria for each individual claim and the periods of self-isolation do not overlap.
The government has set out that the following supporting evidence (electronic evidence such as scanned images, photo images, screenshots) must be supplied with the application for the Test and Trace Support Payment:
- a notification from NHS Test and Trace asking that you self-isolate (this will include your Unique ID number)
- recent proof of receipt of one of the qualifying benefits
- a recent bank statement (which shows the full name on the account, the full account number and sort code)
- recent proof of employment (most recent payslip), or, if you are self-employed, evidence of self-assessment returns, trading income and proof that your business delivers services which cannot be undertaken without social contact.
Applicants applying as the parent or guardian on behalf of their child, will also need to provide either:
- the child’s eight-digit NHS Test and Trace ID number - this is for parents and guardians of children or young people who have received a notification directly from NHS Test and Trace telling them to self-isolate
- a communication from the child or young person’s education or childcare setting confirming that they have to self-isolate - this is for parents and guardians of children or young people who have been told to self-isolate by their education or childcare setting because they have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive
- a screenshot of the young person’s NHS COVID-19 App notification telling them to self-isolate and evidence that the young person has an Education, Health and Care Plan - this is for parents or guardians of young people aged 16-25 who have additional support needs and who have been notified to self-isolate by the NHS COVID-19 App.
Please note that we are required to contact the education or childcare setting to confirm that the information you have provided is correct.
Individuals who are quarantining after returning to the UK
Individuals who are self-isolating after returning to the UK from abroad because the law requires it, due to the UK Government travel restrictions rules, are not eligible to be considered under the Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme, even if they have tested positive for Coronavirus or been instructed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. This is because on return to the UK from abroad the individuals are required by law to quarantine in accordance with the UK Government rules for international travel.
If, after reading the above information, you are eligible for a Test and Trace Support Payment and your main place of residence is with the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area, please apply online.
Where more than one individual in the same household has been told to self-isolate, they must each make a separate application to receive a Test and Trace Support Payment, if they meet the eligibility criteria in full.
If you need help with applying online, please call us on 0345 034 4569.
How to upload evidence after applying to support your claim
If you are unable to supply the supporting evidence required at the time of submitting the application, evidence can be uploaded by using our online evidence upload form.
Right of Appropriation
If you know that your accounts are at risk and to avoid this payment being taken as soon as it has been deposited into your account, you could exercise your ‘first right of appropriation’. This is a temporary measure under common law, allowing you to earmark funds for specific essential bills, for example; your rent, your mortgage, and your gas or electricity.
You will need to put this request in writing to your bank or building society and list the bills you need to be earmarked.
If your bank or building society has already taken funds, leaving you with not enough to cover your essential bills, you should contact them anyway to discuss your circumstances and to request a full or partial refund to cover your essential living costs. If your bank or building society refuses your request, you should make a complaint to the bank.
When you make a 'first right of appropriation' request, your bank can make a decision to either freeze your account and/or remove an overdraft facility if you have one. You need to make sure that you can manage either or both of these situations before you make the request.