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Test and Trace Support Payment

Since the 28 September 2020, there has been 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, to self-isolate (# please refer to changes from the 16 August 2021 below).

The Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme has supported those on low incomes who are unable to work from home and will lose income if they are required to self-isolate because of COVID-19.

Eligible individuals have received a one-off taxable payment of £500. This is to help ensure people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and their close contacts self-isolate for the required period, and to encourage individuals who have symptoms to get tested. This was important to help stop the transmission of COVID-19 and avoid further economic and societal restrictions.

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. 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.

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 if the individual meets the eligibility criteria for each individual claim and the periods of self-isolation do not overlap.

The Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme will continue until the end of March 2022, as part of the Government’s COVID-19 response over the autumn and winter. 

Changes to self-isolation requirements

From 16 August 2021, people who are fully vaccinated and who are identified as contacts will no longer be required to self-isolate.

This will mean that fully vaccinated contacts will be ineligible for a Test and Trace Support Payment (unless they themselves test positive, at which point they would become eligible).

From this date, anyone under 18 who is a contact will also be exempt from self-isolation. As children who have tested positive will still be required to self-isolate, their parents and guardians may still be eligible, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated (as they may need to stay at home and look after their child if the child is 15 and under). 

If a young person aged under 25 has been identified as a close contact and they have an Education, Health and Care plan, their parents or guardians may be eligible if they need to stay at home to look after them.

Please refer to the Parents and Guardians section below for more details.

Eligibility for the Test and Trace Support Payment

Please refer to the Standard Scheme Policy.

To be eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment after the changes to self-isolation requirements from the 16 August 2021, you must meet all the following:

  • have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or via the NHS COVID-19 App because:
    • you have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app because you have tested positive for Coronavirus
      OR
    • have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app because you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive, and you are not fully vaccinated
  • 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) and provided any legally required information, such as details of your close contacts;
  • are employed or self-employed
  • are unable to work from home and will lose income as a result of self-isolating; and
  • are currently receiving or are the partner in the same household as someone who is receiving, at least one of the following benefits:  
    • Universal Credit
    • Working Tax Credit
    • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
    • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
    • Income Support
    • Housing Benefit
    • Pension Credit.

Discretionary Scheme

If you do not currently receive 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:

  • 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
  • a loss of earnings for the period of self-isolation
  • savings (this includes money in current account) must be less than £1000
  • not be a full-time student
  • can demonstrate that the household will suffer financial hardship by having to self-isolate.

Parents and guardians who have not been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace

As a parent or guardian of a young person who is required to self-isolate you may be eligible for a Test and Trace Support Payment if you meet the following criteria (even if you are fully vaccinated):

  • you are the parent or guardian of a young person in the same household who is self-isolating and need to take time off work to care for them - this is limited to one parent or guardian per household for the child or young person’s self-isolation period
  • are employed or self-employed
  • cannot work from home while undertaking caring responsibilities and will lose income
  • the young person has:
    • tested positive for COVID-19 and is aged 15 or under, or aged 25 or under with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan
      Or
    • been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19 (by NHS Test and Trace, their education or care setting or the NHS COVID-19 app), is aged 18-25, is not fully vaccinated and has an EHC Plan;
  • the young person normally attends an education or care setting; and
  • as a parent or guardian you meet all the other means-tested eligibility criteria for a Test and Trace Support Payment or the criteria for a discretionary payment.

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.

Evidence requirements

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 prior to the 16 August 2021 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.

People 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.

Apply online

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.