By Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter
PEOPLE who are forced to self-isolate after getting ill with Covid-19 or coming into contact with a positive case can get a £500 support payment – if they meet certain criteria.
The test and trace support payment scheme provides support to people on low incomes if they cannot work during the time they have to quarantine.
It was introduced in response to the government making self-isolating a legal obligation if someone tests positive for coronavirus, or is identified as a contact by test and trace.
Local authorities have also been provided with a discretionary fund to support people who need financial support, but don’t meet the full criteria for the mainstream payment.
Oldham council, along with Blackburn with Darwen and Pendle council were chosen as pilots for self-isolation payments in September.
The town hall has now received £129,000 to deliver the test and trace support payment scheme, and just over £77,000 to deliver discretionary support.
It’s hoped the introduction of the £500 cash payments will encourage people to get tested and self-isolate properly, without fear of financial hardship.
The cash boost is especially relevant for people who work zero hour contracts, or are not entitled to sick pay.
According to Oldham council documents, to be eligible for the test and trace payment you must be either employed or self-employed, be unable to work from home and would lose income as a result of quarantining.
You would also qualify if you are receiving Universal Credit, working tax credit, income related employment and support allowance, and other benefits.
To prove that you qualify people will have to show a notification from test and trace asking them to self-isolate, a bank statement, proof of employment, and proof of income benefits.
Valid applications will be processed and paid directly into the person’s bank account within three days of a completed application which has met the eligibility criteria.
In Greater Manchester, the council can also make a discretionary payment to individuals who have ‘property related costs’ and pay council tax.
This would be to support people keep up with ‘core household bills’ while they are unable to work and self-isolating.
It would also be available to people ‘who are on low incomes and will face financial hardship as a result of not being able to work while they are self-isolating’.
According to the council, low income is defined at £20,000 a year for a couple or a single parent applicant, and £13,400 a year for a single person claiming support.
The scheme ‘will not normally’ apply for students, although some may qualify under the test and trace criteria.