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NHS Covid-19 app now offers £500 self-isolation payments to workers on benefits or a low income

Workers on benefits or on a low income in England who are instructed to self-isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app may now be able to claim a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment.

Up to and including 9 December, people were only offered the payment if they were told to stay at home by human Test and Trace staff - the NHS service set up to combat Covid-19. But from 10 December, those who are told to self-isolate via the app will be able to request the money as well. Below we explain who is eligible and how to claim. 

See our Coronavirus Universal Credit & Benefits guide for more help.

Who is eligible for a £500 Test & Trace payment

If you’ve been told to self-isolate, you could be eligible for a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment if you live in England and meet all of the following criteria:

  • You’ve been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace from 28 September onwards OR been told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app and your period of self-isolation ends from 10 December onwards. (This will be either because you’ve tested positive for coronavirus or you've recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.)
  • You’ve responded to messages received from NHS Test and Trace, and where required, provided your contact details, if you've tested positive and details of your 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 receive one of several benefits OR are on a low income and facing financial hardship as a result of not being able to work while self-isolating:

    - If you claim benefits... you must currently receive at least one of the following: universal credit, working tax credit, income-based employment and support allowance, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income support, housing benefit, pension credit. If so you'll qualify for the guaranteed payment - which means you're guaranteed to get the £500 so long as you meet all the other criteria.

    - If you're on low income... you or your partner can't be on benefits. It's ultimately up to each local authority to set who qualifies though, as there's no set income threshold. If you qualify, you'll be eligible for the discretionary payment - this isn't guaranteed but is paid at councils' discretion, so you may not be able to get the cash in every case, and some councils have run out of discretionary funding

These grants are payable for each period of self-isolation you're required to undertake. We have further details on the specific eligiblity requirements in our Coronavirus Universal Credit and Benefits guide.

How to claim if notified by the NHS Covid-19 app

Here's how to claim the payment using the app: 

  • At the point you receive a notification to self-isolate from the app a 'Financial support' button will appear. This will be visible for the isolation period only.
  • Select this button, and you'll be taken out of the app to a Government Gateway web page.
  • You'll be asked to select whether you live in Wales or England - payments are only being made to those in England, although users in Wales can still use the app (if you're in Wales, you'll need to go directly your local authority). 

You won't be eligible for financial support via the app if your period of isolation finished before Thursday 10 December. If your isolation period ends on or after Thursday 10 December you can claim, so long as you're still within the isolation period. That's because the button to claim via the app is only live while you're isolating. 

Also, note that if you receive/d a notification from the app before 17 December to isolate and you're still in isolation, you can now leave isolation when your app countdown timer says three days. That's because the self-isolation period fell from 14 days to 10 days on 14 December in England, but it takes a few days for the app to be updated. 

How to claim if notified by the NHS Test and Trace team

If you've been told to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace team (ie, not by the app) then you need to continue to claim via your local authority as before.

Use's tool to search for your local council and apply on its website.

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