New benefit allowance trialled for those isolating for COVID-19

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 to ensure the process works, 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. This will not reduce any other benefits that they receive. 

Individuals identified as non-household contacts of a person who tested positive for the virus and is asked to self isolate for up to 14 days will be entitled to £13 per day up to a maximum of £182. 

To be eligable for funding, individuals must have tested positive for COVID-19 or received a notification from NHS Test and Trace asking them to self isolate, currently be receiving Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit, and then complied with this notice while providing contact details to their local authority. It is open to self-employed people as well as employed people, although self-employed people will have to show evidence of trading income and any worker will have to be assessed to be unable to reasonably do their job from home. 

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.

There will be a rapid review of the scheme in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham 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.