From Monday 28 September, legally you will need to self-isolate (stay at home) if you:

  • test positive for COVID-19
  • are identified by NHS Test and Trace as a ‘close contact’

If you are asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, and you meet the Government’s criteria, you may be entitled to £500, as part of the new Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme.

We have answered some of the most common questions we're asked about:

What is the aim of the Test and Trace Support Payment?

The aim of the scheme 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 spread of COVID-19.

Who will be eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment?

In Wirral, to be eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment, you must:

  • have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace either because you’ve tested positive for coronavirus or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive
  • 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-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit or Pension Credit.

Since 8 March 2021, the Scheme (TTSP) has been extended to parents and guardians who are not legally required to self-isolate, but who need to take time off work to look after a child or young person who is self-isolating. Applicants will need to satisfy the other eligibility criteria for the main scheme or their local discretionary scheme to receive the payment.

How much is the payment?

Applicants who meet the criteria will be entitled to £500. This will be payable as a lump sum directly in to the applicant's bank account.

What if I meet the criteria but I am not receiving any of the benefits listed?

Individuals who meet all of the criteria but are not in receipt of the benefits outlined, may be able to receive help from a discretionary fund. The individual must be on a low income and must face financial hardship as a result of not being able to work due to self-isolating (or their child or young person's self-isolation) to be considered for a discretionary payment.

Individuals will be asked to state their average monthly income before their period of self-isolation, together with that of any other members of their household aged 18 or over, including any partner. They will also be asked the reasons they will face financial hardship due to their self-isolation. They should include as much detail as possible about their circumstances. This will help us with the assessment.

Will these payments be taxed?

These payments will be subject to income tax. They will not be subject to National Insurance contributions.

How long will this be in place for?

The scheme will run until 30 June 2021.

What evidence do I need to apply for the Test and Trace Support Payment?

People will make an online application (or a telephone application if they are digitally excluded) and submit as supporting evidence:

If the individual has been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, they will need the following information to complete this form:

  • a copy of the NHS Test and Trace notification they received requesting you self-isolate. This can be a photo or screenshot of any electronic communication, for example an email or text message, or a scan of any letter. It must clearly show the date they received the notification and the Test and Trace Account ID
  • their 8-character NHS Test and Trace Account ID. They must have completed the contact tracing questionnaire for your NHS Test & Trace Account ID to be valid. They will have been sent an electronic link to this by NHS Test and Trace to undertake the contact tracing journey
  • a copy of their latest bank statement (issued in the last two months). This can be a photo or screenshot but must clearly show the name on the account, the sort code and account number. This will be the account into which they would like the payment made if they are successful
  • proof of employment (if applicable) such as a recent wage slip or bank statement showing the wages being paid into their bank account
  • proof of self-employment (if applicable) 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 their records in the NHS Test and Trace system to confirm their eligibility. Read the NHS Test and Trace privacy notice
  • their National Insurance number
  • if they are employed - the contact within their organisation who can confirm the impact of self-isolation on their wages.  They should have confirmed with their employer prior to completing this form that they will receive less or no wages due to their period of self-isolation

If the individual is a parent or guardian of a child or young person who has been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or their education or childcare setting, the individual will need the following information to complete this form:

Either:

  • their child or young person’s 8-character NHS Test and Trace Account ID (if aged 16 or over). 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, OR
  • a communication from their 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, OR
  • a screenshot of their 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

They will also need:

  • a copy of their latest bank statement (issued in the last two months). This can be a photo or screenshot but must clearly show the name on the account, the sort code and account number. This will be the account into which they would like the payment made in to if they are successful
  • proof of employment (if applicable) such as a recent wage slip or bank statement showing the wages being paid into their bank account
  • proof of self-employment (if applicable) 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 their records in the NHS Test and Trace system to confirm their eligibility. Read the NHS Test and Trace privacy notice
  • your National Insurance number
  • if they are employed - the contact within their organisation who can confirm the impact of self-isolation on their wages.  They should have confirmed with their employer prior to completing this form that they will receive less or no wages due to their period of self-isolation
  • to consent for us to contact their child or young person’s education or childcare setting to verify the information you have given us and provide the contact details (telephone number)

Is there a time limit to claims?

There is a six week (42 day) limit from the first day of self-isolation in which to claim the funds.

What does the NHS Test and Trace account ID look like?

This is an 8 character NHS account ID, which is a mix of numbers and letters. It is not the same as the test reference number.

NHS Test and Trace uses a web-based tool called the Contact Tracing and Advice Service (CTAS) to record information about people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and their contacts. This system allocates individuals an Account ID is an 8-character identifier unique to each record on the web tool (e.g. 4a2c204a).

Most people who test positive for COVID-19 or are a contact of someone who has had a positive test will receive a digital invitation from the CTAS web tool to undertake the contact tracing journey. The invitation message (sent via a text message or email) contains the 8-character Account ID. Everyone who has completed the contact tracing journey (including those who were ineligible for the digital invitation, such as children or individuals with a landline number only) will receive a message upon completion of the NHS Test and Trace questionnaire. The message (sent either via a text message/email or postal service for people with no access to mobile phone or email) contains the 8-character Account ID.

The NHS Test and Trace Account ID can be found in text messages and emails that are sent to people who are asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. A list of messages that contain this ID include:

  1. an initial invitation message asking the individual to create an account on CTAS if they test positive for COVID-19 or they are identified as a contact.
  2. a reminder messages to create an account (where applicable).
  3. advice providing guidance on self-isolation, health, wellbeing and legal duties

How will the payments be made?

Payments should be made by bank transfer to the bank account matching the bank statement provided by each claimant as part of their proof of eligibility.

What if my bank account is overdrawn?

Banks are not allowed to use any benefit to repay an overdraft. Individuals should speak to their bank and ask for a 'first right of appropriation of funds order'. Individuals in this position need to tell us on the form.

Can someone make multiple claims if asked to isolate multiple times?

A claim can be made for each period of self-isolation required - but these periods cannot overlap and must be separate. All eligibility criteria must be met and supporting evidence provided.

Can numerous members of the same household apply?

People in the same household can each make an individual application to receive the payment, if they each meet the eligibility criteria. Only one parent or guardian can apply per household for a child or young person's self-isolation period.

Can I make an application after my period of self-isolation has ended?

Eligible individuals can make a claim up to 42 days after their period of self-isolation began. Applications after this period has passed will not be accepted.

Can I apply on someone else's behalf?

Yes, third party applications can be made. However, the £500 must be paid into a bank account in the name of the person for whom the application is being made (so, for example, if someone applied on behalf of a relative, the payment would be made into the relative’s bank account).

I am an employer and I have identified people who have been in close contact with someone at work who has tested positive, what should I do?

If they have been in close contact during the infectious period (48 hours before symptom onset, or a positive test whichever is earlier), and have NOT already been notified by NHS Test and Trace, you should advise them to self-isolate.

You can inform NHS Test and Trace using the hotline number 020 3743 6715 to help these contacts get NHS Test and Trace reference numbers as soon as possible.

I am quarantining after returning to the UK – can I apply for the NHS Test and Trace Support payment?

The Test and Trace Support Payment 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.

I’m currently furloughed and self-isolating, can I apply?

People who have been furloughed can claim the payment, provided they meet all of the eligibility criteria.

Some people will be furloughed but still working part-time. If they cannot do their part-time job from home while self-isolating, and will lose income as a result, they will be eligible for the scheme provided they meet the other eligibility criteria.

Why does self-isolation matter?

Ensuring people who test positive for coronavirus and their close contacts self-isolate (stay at home) is one of our most powerful tools for controlling transmission.

Individuals with the virus can remain infectious to other people for up to 10 days after developing symptoms.

It can take up to 14 days for a person to develop coronavirus symptoms after they catch the virus, and in this time, they can unknowingly pass it on to others, even if they don’t have symptoms.

Self-isolating helps prevent family, friends and the community from contracting coronavirus, as well as helping to protect the health and care system.

What is the law on self-isolation?

As of Monday 28th September, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 or are identified as a contact by NHS Test and Trace or a local public health team must self-isolate (stay at home).

Alongside this change to the law, the Government have introduced penalties for those breaking the rules, including fines on a sliding scale from £1,000 up to a maximum of £10,000 for multiple breaches.
The changes also place a new legal obligation on employers that they must not knowingly enable or encourage their employees to break the law on self-isolation.

The new Test and Trace Support Payment of £500 is available for those on low incomes to support them if they cannot work during their self-isolation period.

Who should self-isolate and when?

Guidance on who should stay at home and for how long

What difference does it make if self-isolation has a legal basis?

According to central government, this change is intended to make clear the importance of people self-isolating when they have COVID-19, or know they have been in recent and close contact with someone who has tested positive. A new legal obligation, implemented rapidly nationwide, will help stop the virus continuing to spread.

What is meant by a ‘close contact’?

A ‘close contact’ is a person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 anytime from 2 days before the person had any symptoms up to 10 days from the first day of symptoms (this period is when they are infectious to others). For example, a contact can be:

  • people who spend significant time in the same household as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • a person who has had face-to-face contact (within one metre), with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, including:
  • being coughed on
  • having a face-to-face conversation within one metre
  • having skin-to-skin physical contact, or
  • contact within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact
  • a person who has been within 2 metres of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes
  • a person who has travelled in a small vehicle with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or in a large vehicle or plane near someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • anyone who NHS Test and Trace or your local public health team (Wirral) identifies as a close contact

There is more information about what is classed as a close contact via the NHS website.

How do I self-isolate?

Self-isolation is when you do not leave your home because you have or might have coronavirus (COVID-19). This helps stop the virus spreading to other people. While 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

Links to local support and information is available via the Wirral InfoBank website

How will the duty to self-isolate be imposed?

The proposed legal duties will apply in England only. Anyone notified of a positive test result and any of their notified contacts will have a legal duty to self-isolate. Guidance will make clear that people who have symptoms should, as now, self-isolate while they get a test. Where there is clear evidence that someone is not following the rules, the police will determine what follow-up action to take and, where necessary, issue fixed penalty notices.

I am employed by a Care Home or Community Care Provider who has received Infection Control and Testing Funding from Wirral Council. Why I am not eligible for a Test and Trace Support Payment?

The Infection Control and Testing Funding paid to your employer is to be used to pay wages during an employee's period of self-isolation. The Infection Control and Testing Funding is paid to a group of Health and Social Care Employers across Wirral and can fund employee wages.  

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