The government is trialling the introduction of a new payment for people on low incomes in areas with high rates of Covid-19, who need to self-isolate and are unable to work from home
The aim is to support people currently receiving either universal credit or working tax credit who are unable to work from home while self-isolating, either after testing positive, or after being identified by NHS Test and Trace as living in the same household as – or coming into contact with – someone who has tested positive.
Under the scheme, which begins next month, payments of up to £182 to be made to people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and their contacts.
It will start first with a trial in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle, and Oldham to ensure the process works. These are all areas that have recently been put under stricter lockdown conditions because of a spike in coronavirus cases.
Eligible individuals who test positive with the virus will receive £130 for their 10-day period of self-isolation. Other members of their household, who have to self-isolate for 14 days, will be entitled to a payment of £182.
Non-household contacts advised to self-isolate through NHS Test and Trace will also be entitled to a payment of up to £182, tailored to the individual length of their isolation period and calculated at a rate of £13 per day.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘The British public have already sacrificed a great deal to help slow the spread of the virus. Self-isolating if you have tested positive for Covid-19, or have come into contact with someone who has, remains vital to keeping on top of local outbreaks.
‘This new payment scheme will help people on low incomes and who are unable to work from home to continue playing their part in the national fight against this virus.’
Payments will be provided within 48 hours of the eligible individual providing the necessary evidence. Individuals will be asked to provide a notification from NHS Test and Trace and a bank statement.
The local authority can also check the NHS Test and Trace system to confirm the individual has been asked to self-isolate, if the individual is unable to provide this information. The local authority will put in place checks to prevent fraud and ensure compliance through welfare check-ins, phone calls and employment checks.
The pilot scheme will start on 1 September and there will be a rapid review to assess the performance, consider how effectively vulnerable people have been reached, and consider how far it has helped reduce transmission of the virus in these areas.
If the approach is successful, the scheme will be quickly applied in other areas of high Covid-19 incidence.
To be eligible for the funding, individuals must have tested positive for Covid-19 or received a notification from NHS Test and Trace asking them to self-isolate, and have agreed to comply with the notification from NHS Test and Trace and provided contact details to the local authority.
Employed people will be asked to show proof of employment. Those who are self-employed will be required to show evidence of trading income and that their business delivers services which the local authority reasonably judges they are unable to carry out without social contact.