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21 September, 2020 Open access

Government announces £500 Test and Trace Support payment for people claiming qualifying benefits or working tax credit who are required to self-isolate

Available from 28 September 2020, the new payment will be administered by local authorities and limited to people in England who are unable to work from home during isolation

The government has announced a £500 Test and Trace Support payment for people in England claiming qualifying benefits or working tax credit who are required to self-isolate to avoid coronavirus transmission.

Confirming a new package of support and enforcement measures to encourage self-isolation under the NHS Test and Trace system, the government said yesterday -

'People will be required by law to self-isolate from 28 September, supported by payment of £500 for those on lower incomes who cannot work from home and have lost income as a result. New fines for those breaching self-isolation rules will start at £1,000 - bringing this in line with the penalty for breaking quarantine after international travel - but could increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offences and for the most egregious breaches, including for those preventing others from self-isolating.'

In relation to the payment scheme, the government says it will be set up and administered by local authorities and is expected to be in place by 12 October 2020. Those who start to self-isolate from 28 September 2020 but before the scheme has been set up will be able to receive backdated payments.

Eligibility criteria for the payments are provided in updated Pubic Health England guidance, Stay at home guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, that advises -

'Local authorities will be putting arrangements in place to make these payments, with further details to be made available shortly. You will be eligible if you live in England and meet all the following criteria -

  • you have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace
  • you are employed or self-employed
  • you cannot work from home and will lose income as a result
  • you are claiming at least one of the following benefits: universal credit, working tax credit, income-related employment and support allowance, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income support, pension credit or housing benefit.'

For more information, see New package to support and enforce self-isolation from gov.uk

Update (1 October 2020) - in force from 22 October 2020, the Social Security Contributions (Disregarded Payments) (Coronavirus) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI.No.1065/2020) provide that the Test and Trace support payments will not be liable to employer or employee Class 1 National Insurance contributions. Employers will also not be liable to Class 1A National Insurance contributions in respect of the payments.