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.

How much is the payment?

Individuals who are required to self-isolate and who meet the benefits-linked eligibility criteria will be entitled to £500. This will be payable as a lump sum.

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 we would expect them to have main bills such as a mortgage or rent. The individual must face significant financial hardship as a result of not being able to work due to self-isolating 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 significant 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.

Successful applicants will be awarded a £500 lump sum, payable into their bank account.

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 31 March 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:

  • a copy of the NHS Test and Trace notification received requesting they 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 8-digit Test and Trace ID.  For the ID to be valid, the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing questionnaire must have been completed.
  • a bank statement (within the past two months) and;
  • proof of employment (such as the last wage slip or recent bank statement showing wages being paid into their account), or, if they are self-employed, evidence of self-assessment returns, trading income and proof that their business delivers services which cannot be undertaken from home.

Additional evidence required for applications for a discretionary payment:

  • if they pay Council Tax but are not named on the bill, a copy of either their joint tenancy agreement, their joint mortgage statement or a utility bill with their name on.

Is there a time limit to claims?

These is a 28 day limit from the first day of self-isolation in which to claim the funds.

What does the Test and Trace number look like?

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

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.

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

Eligible individuals can make a claim up to 28 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 parent, the payment would be made into the parent’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?

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 an IPC (infection Prevention Control) Grant from Wirral Council.  Why I am not eligible for a Test & Trace Support Payment?

The Infection Prevention Control Grant paid to your employer is to be used to pay wages during an employee's period of self-isolation.  The Infection Control Fund Period paid to a group of Health and Social Care Employers across Wirral can fund employee wages from 1 October 2020 to 31 March 2021.