Cases reached a record high since the pandemic began, totalling in over 90,000 new infections on Thursday 16 December.
With isolation rules creating disruptions to everyday life, those on low incomes are entitled to a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment.
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Here’s everything you need to know about whether you’re eligible and how to claim the one-off payment.
What are the isolation rules?
If you test positive for Covid-19, you are legally obliged to self-isolate for a total of 10 days.
The period begins from the day you felt symptoms – whether they be mild of strong. If you do not feel any symptoms, however, the isolation period begins from the day you got tested.
Upon entering your positive test result into the Covid-19 app, you will be advised on which date to isolate until and which you are legally obliged to follow. You will also receive a call or text from NHS Test and Trace if you do not have access to the app.
As part of the measures introduced under Plan B, self-isolation is also required to those notified as coming into contact with people who tested positive for Coronavirus. In these instances, you must also isolate for 10 days.
However, those who are double vaccinated and have been notified as coming into contact with someone infected by Covid-19, are exempt from self-isolation rules providing they take daily lateral flow tests for 7 days.
If at any point you test positive during the 7 day period, you will need to isolate from the day you received the positive result.
How can I claim financial support under the Test and Trace support payment scheme?
You might be able to get a payment of £500 to support you during self-isolation if you live in England and meet all the following criteria:
- You’ve been told to stay at home and self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS Covid-19 app, either because you’ve tested positive for Covid-19 or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive
- You’ve responded to messages from NHS Test and Trace and have provided any legally required information, such as details of your close recent contacts
- You’re employed or self-employed
- You’re unable to work from home and will lose income as a result of self-isolating
- You’re currently receiving or are the partner of someone in the same household who is receiving, at least 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
- Pension Credit
If you’re not on one of these benefits, you might still be able to apply for a £500 discretionary payment if all the following apply:
- You meet all the other criteria listed above
- You’re on a low income
- You will face financial hardship as a result of self-isolating
What if my child has been told to self-isolate?
If you have not contracted Covid-19 but are the parent or guardian of a child who is subject to self-isolation measures, you could be be eligible for the payment, if the following apply:
- You’re the parent or guardian of a child in your household who is self-isolating, and you need to take time off work to care for them
- Your child is aged 15 or under, or aged 25 or under with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan, normally attends an education or childcare setting, and has been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or by their education or childcare setting
- You’re unable to work from home and will lose income because you have to care for your child while they are self-isolating
- You meet all the other eligibility criteria for a Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment
How can I apply for the payment?
If you are eligible, you can apply through your local council.
You can claim up to 42 days after the first day of your, or your child’s self-isolation period.
For the application, you will need to provide the following:
- An NHS Test and Trace Account ID, sometimes referred to as a CTAS number. If you test positive for Covid-19, or are told to self-isolate by contact tracers, you will be provided with an NHS Test and Trace Account ID
- A bank statement
- Proof of employment or, if you’re self-employed, evidence of self-assessment returns, trading income and proof that your business delivers services that cannot be undertaken without social contact
If applying for your child, you will need to input your child’s NHS Test and Trace Account ID or proof of communication from their education or childcare setting telling them to self-isolate.
What are the rules in self-isolation?
NHS Test and Trace will advise on when your isolation period starts and ends, but it typically lasts 10 days from the day contact was made.
Unless you are exempt it is illegal to not self-isolate if you have been contacted and you could be fined if you do not obide the rules.
You should not leave your home for any reason when you are self isolating.
- Do not go to work, school or public places – work from home if you can
- Do not go on public transport or use taxis
- Do not go out to get food and medicine – order it online or by phone, or ask someone to bring it to your home
- Do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for people providing essential care
- Do not go out to exercise – exercise at home or in your garden, if you have one