Self-isolation rules and support payments
Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus, or in certain circumstances, is identified by NHS Test and Trace as a close contact of someone with coronavirus, are required by law to self-isolate.
Self-isolation is critical in stopping the spread of coronavirus. It helps to ensure that those infected with the virus, and their close contacts, remain at home and stop virus transmitting to other people.
Fines for those breaching self-isolation start from £1,000 and could increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offences and for the largest breaches, including for those preventing others from self-isolating.
A number of steps will be taken to make sure that people are complying with the rules, these include:
- NHS Test and Trace call handlers making regular contact with people who are self-isolating, with the ability to escalate any suspicion of non-compliance to us and the police to investigate
- Using police resources to check compliance in the highest incidence areas and in high-risk groups, based on local intelligence
- Acting on instances where people have tested positive, but are not self-isolating
Recognising that self-isolation is one of the most powerful tools for controlling the transmission of coronavirus, a Test and Trace Support payment of £500 will ensure that those on low incomes, or those in receipt of benefits, are able to self-isolate with financial assistance.
Who is eligible for the support payment?
If you've been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, or you're caring for a child who's self-isolating, you may be able to apply for a £500 support payment. You'll need to be on a low income, unable to work from home, and facing financial hardship.
The eligibility rules changed on Monday 16 August 2021.
If your self-isolation date started before this date, then you are potentially eligible if you were told to self-isolate by NHS test and trace or the NHS COVID-19 app. If you're a parent or guardian, your child needs to have been told to isolate by their education or childcare provider.
If your self-isolation date started on or after Monday 16 August, then you are potentially eligible if:
- You have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app because you have tested positive for COVID-19, OR
- You have been told to self-isolate isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app because you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive and are not fully vaccinated
If you have received both COVID-19 vaccinations, you will no longer be asked to self-isolate if you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive.
Similarly, if you are a parent or guardian of a young person who is required to self-isolate then you may be eligible for this payment if you meet the following criteria (even if you are fully vaccinated):
- you are the parent or guardian of a young person in the same household who is self-isolating
- and need to take time off work to care for them
- you are unable to work from home and will lose income
- the young person has:
- tested positive for COVID-19 and is aged 15 or under, or aged 25 or under and has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan
- been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19 (by NHS Test and Trace, their education or care setting or the NHS COVID-19 app), is aged 18-25, is not fully vaccinated and has an EHC Plan
Whether your self-isolation start date was before or after 16 August 2021, then to be eligible for this payment, you must:
- be employed or self-employed
- be unable to work from home and will lose income as a result
- be currently in receipt of one of the following: Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit
A discretionary payment can be considered if:
- You are not currently receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, Income-based Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit
- You are on a low income and your earnings are below £17,000 for a single person or below £25,000 for a couple or you will face financial hardship as a result of not being able to work whilst you are self-isolating
We can't pay applicants who have been told by a friend/contact that they ought to self-isolate, without that person having formally told NHS Test and Trace who their contacts are (for which they will be under a legal duty not to knowingly provide false information).
The legal duty – and the payments – also don't apply to people self-isolating because they, or another member of their household, has symptoms. It only applies if you have tested positive for coronavirus or have been told by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate.
This payment also does not cover people who are self-isolating after returning to the UK from abroad, unless they have tested positive for coronavirus via NHS Test and Trace, or have been instructed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.
How much is the payment?
Individuals who are required to self-isolate and who meet the eligibility criteria, or parents/guardians whose child or children are also self-isolating (and who meet the other eligibility criteria) will be entitled to the £500 payment. This will be payable as a lump sum.
Will these payments be taxed?
These payments will be subject to income tax. They will not be subject to National Insurance contributions.
How long will this be in place for?
The scheme will run until at least March 2022. During this time, we'll continue to review the scheme, including the impact of COVID-19 case rates.
How do I apply?
If you believe you are eligible for this payment as an individual who is self-isolating:
If you believe you are eligible for this payment, as a parent or guardian who is self-isolating because your child or children have been instructed to self-isolate:
If you have any further questions about the Test and Trace support payment, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Test and Trace support payment scheme is open for applications. However, applications cannot begin to be processed until authorisation is given by the Department of Health and Social Care. Therefore, the processing times outlined may not be met.
Further support while you're self-isolating
There is a range of support available for anyone whose life has been impacted by COVID-19. The pandemic has taken its toll on people in many different ways, with some people’s lives affected more severely than others.