COVID-19: Test & Trace Support payment
We are all working hard to keep each other safe and stop the spread of COVID-19 by covering our faces, keeping our distance, washing our hands and national guidance.
From 28 September 2020, to further stop the spread, all of us will be required by law to self-isolate if we test positive for COVID-19, or if we are identified as a contact of someone who has tested positive by the NHS Test and Trace scheme.
If you are required by NHS Test & Trace services to isolate and you cannot work from home, the Government have announced a new one-off payment to support you.
The NHS Test and Trace Support Payment scheme will make sure that people are not out of pocket if they are told to self-isolate and cannot work from their home. The legal duty to self-isolate came into force on 28th September for people who test positive for Covid-19 or are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and can claim a payment of £500.
UPDATE 10 DEC: From 10 December, those who are identified as a close contact through the NHS COVID-19 Test and Trace app, will be able to apply for the Test & Trace Support payment.
South Somerset District Council Test and Trace Discretionary Payment Scheme
South Somerset District Council has also implemented a discretionary Test and Trace Payment Scheme for any individual who meets all required criteria (including additional SSDC criteria) except that you are not currently in receipt of a qualifying benefit and they would face financial hardship due to self-isolation. More information on this scheme can be found out below.
Am I eligible for a test and trace support payment?
The payment will total £500 for those who qualify. These are the criteria under which you can apply.
- You must have been asked by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate on or after 28 September OR
- You have been identified as a close contact by NHS Test and Trace on or after 10 December
- You must be employed or self-employed
- You must not be able to carry out your work from home during the period of self-isolation, resulting in a loss of income
- You must be in receipt of 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 or Pension Credit.
How can I apply?
To receive a Test and Trace Support payment, you must meet certain criteria (see below).
When can people apply?
Applications for the scheme are now open and you can backdate applications from 28th September.
The scheme is due to run until Friday 31 January 2021.
Can I claim if I'm self-isolating after returning to the UK?
The scheme does not cover people who are self-isolating after returning to the UK from abroad, unless they have tested positive for coronavirus or have been instructed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.
Can more than one person in a household claim?
People in the same household can make an individual application if they meet qualifying criteria.
Can I claim more than once?
You can claim more than once, if you are told to self-isolate multiple times.
Can I apply on behalf of someone else?
Applicants can claim on behalf of someone else (eg a son on behalf of a parent) but the payment will only be made into the bank account in the name for whom the application was made (eg in the parent's name)
Who is not eligible?
You will not be eligible for the scheme if you:
- Are quarantining after travelling abroad (unless you test positive during the 14-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, that is, your period of self-isolation ended before the self-isolation payment scheme launched (28 September 2020)
- Have not received a notification from NHS Test and Trace telling you to self-isolate
South Somerset District Council Test and Trace Discretionary Payment Scheme
The council’s Test and Trace Discretionary Payments Scheme is for any individual who meets all the required criteria (including the council’s additional criteria) except that they are not currently in receipt of a qualifying benefit and they would face financial hardship due to self-isolation. The reason for this could be, for example, that a claim for a benefit has not yet been made or that the individual, whilst normally resident in the UK, is unable to gain access to public funds.
The council will receive a fixed amount of funding from government which will be for the four months that the Discretionary Scheme is intended to last. Government has confirmed that no additional monies will be given to the council.
In view of this, and to ensure that discretionary payments are available throughout the period to 31 January 2021, the council reserves the right to change the Test and Trace Discretionary Payments Scheme at any time to ensure funds go to those who face the most financial hardship.
The payment will total £500 for those who qualify. The eligibility criteria under which you can apply is as follows:
- You must have been asked by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate on or after 28th All applicants will be required to provide the 8 digit unique number which was provided to them by test and trace. This will only be valid after the Test and Trace digital journey has been completed.
- You must be employed or self-employed and provide evidence of this:
- Current wageslips or salary slips
- Employment contract
- Letter from employer confirming current employment
- Self assessment form
- HMRC registration as self employed
- Current accounts / accounts and trading statements
The above list is not exhaustive.
- You must not be able to carry out your work from home during the period of self-isolation, resulting in a loss of income, which all applicants will have to certify on the application form. The council will need to be satisfied that any applicants meet these conditions in full and may require further information about the nature of their work and whether they can undertake this work from home.
- Meet the council’s additional criteria for discretionary payments;
- Prior to the applicant’s need to self-isolate their average gross weekly earnings must have been £100 per week or higher as the potential loss of earnings must represent a fundamental change in your weekly income. Applicants under the lower threshold will be signposted for Universal Credit.
- Prior to the applicant’s need to self-isolate their average gross weekly earnings must have been less than £370 per week to be considered as a low income.
For clarity, ‘prior to’ means the average of the 4 weeks prior to the applicant’s requirement to self-isolate, or part thereof if they are able to evidence a starting date within that four-week averaging period.
- Not hold savings in excess of £2,000.00
- Must have a liability to pay rent or a mortgage
Where an applicant meets all of the eligibility criteria for a discretionary payment, a single payment of £500 shall be paid for each period of self-isolation. Payments will be made direct to the applicant’s bank account within 3 working days, starting with the date of completed application.
The number of payments per household is capped at two.
Where further information or evidence is required from the applicant, the council will look to make payment within 3 working days starting with the date when all of the required information is received.
Full details of the applicant’s bank account must be supplied on the application form and this will be cross checked with the copies of the bank statements provided as part of the verification process.
As required by government, payments can only be made to the applicant’s bank account. No payments can be made to third parties whatsoever.
The council is aware that in some cases, applicants may be overdrawn and may not be able to gain access to the payment. In these cases, the applicant may apply for protection. This protection is called a 'first right of appropriation of funds order'. More information can be obtained from Citizens Advice.
Applications for discretionary payments will be considered by officers of the council and all decisions made by the council shall be notified to the applicant either in writing or by email.
Whilst there is no statutory appeal process, the council will operate an internal review process and will accept an applicant’s request for an appeal of its decision by a senior officer.
All such requests must be made in writing or by email to the council, within 3 days of the council’s decision, and should state the reasons why the applicant is aggrieved with the decision of the council. New information may be submitted at this stage to support the applicant’s appeal. The application will be reconsidered as soon as practicable, and the applicant informed in writing or by email of the decision.
Taxation and provision of information to HMRC
The council has been informed by government that all payments under this scheme are taxable. However, the payments will not be subject to National Insurance contributions.
The council does not accept any responsibility in relation to an applicant’s tax liabilities and all applicants should make their own enquiries to establish any tax position.
All applicants should note that the council is required to inform Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of all payments made to individuals.
Managing the risk of fraud
Any applicant caught falsifying information to gain payments will face prosecution and any payment issued will be recovered from them and this may also include other recovery costs.
Applicants should note that, where a Test and Trace Discretionary Payment is paid by the council, details of each individual applicant will be passed to police. Applicants should also note that the council utilises a number of databases and government systems to verify information in connection with any application submitted.
Recovery of amounts incorrectly paid
If it is established that any Test and Trace Discretionary Support Payment has been made incorrectly due to misrepresentation or incorrect information provided to the council by an applicant or their representative(s), the council will look to recover the amount in full.
The council has implemented this Discretionary Scheme in line with government requirements and guidance.
Officers of the council will administer the scheme and the Section 151 Officer is authorised to make technical scheme amendments to ensure it continues to meet the criteria set by the council and, in line with central government guidance.