People on low incomes who need to self-isolate and are unable to work from home in areas with high incidence of COVID-19 will benefit from a new payment scheme starting on Tuesday 1 September, the Health Secretary has announced today.
Starting with a trial in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham, eligible individuals who test positive with the virus will receive £130 for their 10-day period of self-isolation. This payment will not affect any other benefits the person is receiving.
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.
It is designed to support people 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.
It will be available to people currently receiving either Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit.
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.
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
- have agreed to comply with the notification from NHS Test and Trace and provided contact details to the local authority
- be unable to work from home (checks will be undertaken on all applicants) and will lose income a result
- be currently receiving Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit
Commenting on the Government announcement today, Karl Handscomb, Senior Economist at the Resolution Foundation said: “Today’s announcement is a welcome recognition of the need to provide additional financial support to workers who are asked to self-isolate in the event of local lockdowns.
“Up to four million workers in low-income families could be entitled to this new support, with new RF analysis suggesting that a worker earning around £370 a week would have 90 per cent of lost income replaced by a combination of a higher Universal Credit payment and this new support.
“However, this is a very partial approach, with seven-in-eight workers not entitled to this help because their households do not receive benefits.
“Most obviously, middle and higher earners will miss out, but so too will some low-paid workers with low housing costs and no children.
“The Government will need to go further in the event of more severe lockdowns this Autumn, with a postcode-based Job Retention Scheme offering the best way forward.”