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Offices 204 and 205
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Manchester M22 5TG

5th October, 2020

Support Payment for Low Earners when Self-Isolating

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Support Payment for Low Earners when Self-Isolating

A new financial support scheme has launched in England, which enables low earners who are required to self-isolate from 28 September 2020 to apply for a one off Test and Trace Support Payment of £500. The scheme is designed to support people on (1) a low income who cannot work from home; and (2) who have lost income as a result of having to self-isolate. Self-isolation is now mandatory if:

  • A person receives a positive test result for Covid-19; or
  • They are identified as a ‘close contact’ of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 by the NHS Test and Trace service.

The support payment launched on 28 September; however, the application process is not expected to be open until 12 October 2020. Applications must be submitted through the Applicant’s Local Authority, either by phone or through an online application process. Payments will be backdated to account for any Applicants who were self-isolating within the first two weeks of the scheme being launched.

To be eligible to apply for the support payment, the following requirements must be met:

  • The Applicant must comply with the NHS Test and Trace notification to self-isolate;
  • The Applicant must be employed or self-employed, unable to work from home and will lose income as a result of self-isolating;
  • The Applicant must be in receipt of at least one of the following benefits:
  • Universal Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Pension Credit

A special discretionary scheme will apply for any Applicants who do not receive one of the benefits listed, but who are in receipt of a low income and will face financial hardship if they are required to complete a period of self-isolation.

Applicants may be prevented from receiving the payment if one of the following applies:

  • They are quarantining after travelling abroad (unless they receive a positive test result during this time);
  • They are in receipt of their full wages/salary while in self-isolation;
  • They can work from home during the period of self-isolation;
  • The notification to self-isolate was received before 28 September 2020;
  • They have not received a notification from NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate; or
  • They are currently furloughed from work.

Payments will be made directly to the Applicant, and are subject to income tax but not National Insurance contributions. The payments will be made in addition to any Statutory Sick Pay being received by the Applicant from their employer, or any state benefits they receive.

The scheme is expected to run until 31 January 2021 and is currently only applicable to those who are resident in England. The Welsh Government has indicated that a similar scheme will be launched in Wales, although details of that scheme have not yet been announced.

Breach of regulations governing self-isolation now carries a fine, with sanctions starting at £1,000. Serious or repeated breaches could see individuals receiving a fine of up to £10,000. It is hoped that by providing additional financial support for those on a low income that compliance with orders to self-isolate will increase.

Further details on the scheme and how to apply can be found on the website: or via the relevant Local Authority.

What can employers do?

As we have explained in our separate articles relating to self-isolation and employers’ obligations, employers owe an obligation for the health and safety of their staff and this includes encouraging employees to follow the rules regarding self-isolation.  See our earlier updates:

Low paid income staff may be discouraged from reporting an obligation to self-isolate because of the risk of losing out on pay and may not know their rights and entitlements.  We would recommend that employers alert them to the support that may be available to them so that staff can check if they would be eligible under the new scheme.

Debbie Coyne


Senior Associate
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 07714 331 961

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