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£500 self-isolation payment (also known as Test and Trace Support payment)

We are currently dealing with an extremely high number of test and trace support payment applications which has resulted in longer processing times. We are working through the applications as quickly as we can and will contact you with a decision as soon as possible.

Please read all this guidance before applying - we are receiving a large number of unsuccessful applications from people who do not meet the basic criteria.

If you have lost income because you have been required to self isolate, you may be eligible for a payment of £500 through the Test and Trace Support payment scheme. The government has made this available to some people who are on a low income and have had to self-isolate on or after Monday 28 September 2020. It is a legal requirement to self-isolate, if you do not do so you are liable to be prosecuted. Please apply below but read all the guidance carefully before doing so - we are receiving a large number of unsuccessful applications from people who do not meet the basic criteria.

Each person in your household who meets the eligible criteria can apply for a test and trace support payment. You can also apply more than once, if you or a child or young person you are caring for has to self-isolate more than one time. The payment is taxable but not subject to National Insurance.

Due to the high volumes of applications we are currently receiving it may take up to 15 working days to notify you the outcome of your application.

The scheme will run until 30 September 2021 and applications need to be made no later than 42 days after the start date of your self-isolation.

Applying because you have been told to self-isolate or because you have been in close contact with someone who has

To be eligible you must have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace because you have either tested positive for coronavirus or, before the 16 August 2021, have recently been in close contact with someone who has.

You must complete the FULL contact tracing journey. This involves you receiving an email or text invite to create an account. Once you have created an account you will be asked to complete a questionnaire and receive a message once you have done so. The invite, any reminder to create your account and the message you receive on completion of the questionnaire, will all contain your an 8 character account id. You must have this number to qualify for a payment and you must have created your account and have completed the full contact tracing journey. If you have not completed the contact tracing journey we will not be able to verify your test and trace account id number and therefore you will not qualify for a payment.  If you need to query your Account ID you can ring 119, however they will not accept calls made from withheld numbers.

If you have reported covid-19 symptoms via the app, and are required to book a test, you will only be able to apply for a test and trace support payment if you get a positive test result. You are not eligible for a payment while you are waiting for a test. The government says this is because you are not legally obliged to self-isolate until you receive a positive test result.

If you have been told to self-isolate via the NHS Covid-19 app because you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, or you have tested positive, a button called "Financial Support" will appear on the home screen of the app. This will take you to the NHS Test and Trace website, where you will be asked to provide some information. None of this information will be passed back to or stored on the app. You will need to log in or register with NHS and once you have done this you will get a confirmation link or email. You should keep the existing screen open while you read the email as you will be asked to enter your name and NHS Test and Trace will carry out some checks. You should receive this message from NHS Test and Trace within 24 hours.

You need to follow the link in this message to complete your registration with NHS Test and Trace and do this while you are in your self-isolation period. See above regarding registration and the full contact tracing journey.  Once you have completed your registration, you will receive a further email and text message from NHS Test and Trace. This will contain your NHS Test and Trace account ID. You must have this to qualify for a payment. At this point you are legally obliged to self-isolate and can apply for a test and trace support payment.

Applying from 8 March 2021 because you are looking after a child or young person who is self-isolating

Eligibility for parents and guardians is designed to cover situations where the child who is self-isolating would normally be at school, nursery or another childcare setting during the week. This means that during the summer holidays:

  • Parents of school-aged children who need to self-isolate are not eligible for the payment if the child would not have been at school anyway during the period of self-isolation (because the school is shut for the summer).
  • Parents of children sent home from other settings that may remain open during the summer - such as nurseries or special settings for 18-25 year-olds with additional support needs - may still be eligible for the payment provided the child/young person who is self-isolating would have been attending the setting had they not had to self-isolate - evidence of this will need to be provided.

If you meet all of the criteria above but are not self-isolating yourself, but you are not able to work because you are the parent or guardian of a child aged 15 or under (or aged 25 or under with Health, Education and Care Plan (EHC)) who has been required to self-isolate on or after 8 March 2021, and you have had to take time off to look after them, you can also apply for a payment. Only one parent or guardian can apply and this should be the parent or guardian in the household where the child normally resides. Your child must ordinarily attend an education or additional support education child care setting. 

You can apply more than once for different children and different periods of self-isolation, as long as they do not overlap. For example, if you have two children and the first is told to self-isolate on 10 March and the second on 12 March you can only claim one payment as the periods overlap. However, if one child was told to self-isolate on 12 March and the second child not until 26 March, you could make a further application for the second child. 

If before the 16 August 2021, your child must have been either told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace and have a CTAS number or been told to self-isolate by their educational establishment. If the latter, we will require proof from the educational establishment that they have been told to self-isolate. After the 16th August 2021, your child/young person will only be required to self-isolate if they have tested positive.

When you apply we will need the name, date of birth and main address of your child and the first date of self-isolation. We will also need the education or care setting your child attends, including year group, and the contact details for that setting (e-mail address and/or phone number). This is because we are required to ask them to confirm the details you have provided about your child. If your child has a Health, Education and Care Plan, we'll also need proof of this. 

If you are applying for a Test and Trace Support payment for yourself or because you are required to look after a child who is self-isolating you also need to be currently receiving one of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Pension Credit

If you meet all criteria except one of the above benefits, you can still apply and we will consider you for a Discretionary payment.

From 16 August 2021 the rules on self-isolation will change.

Close contacts who are fully vaccinated will not be required to self-isolate. This will apply where:

  • An adult has been vaccinated in the UK with an MHRA approved vaccine ; and
  • It is 14 days or more since the date of their last dose

Children will also be exempt  from self-isolation.

Exemptions from  self-isolation for close contacts will also  apply to those who:

  • Are taking part in, or have taken part in, an MHRA approved clinical trial for a coronavirus vaccine; or
  • Can evidence that they are not able to be vaccinated for a clinical reason.

Despite restrictions loosening and social distancing measures easing, it is still imperative that people self-isolate if they develop symptoms or test positive for Covid-19.

Who is not eligible

You will not be eligible for the scheme if:

  • you are quarantining after travelling abroad (unless you test positive during the 14-day quarantine period)
  • you continue to receive full wages while you self-isolate
  • you can work from home during a period of self-isolation
  • you were notified to self-isolate before the Self-Isolation Payment Scheme launched on 28 September 2020
  • you have not received a notification from NHS Test and Trace telling you to self-isolate
  • we are unable to verify your unique 8 digit ID number from NHS Test and Trace
  • you are receiving a lower wage because you are furloughed (unless you are receiving flexi furlough as you are working part of your contacted hours and there is a reduction in your income)
  • you are self-isolating because you have returned to the UK from abroad (unless you have been told to do so by Test and Trace or have tested positive)

We understand that by making this Self-Isolation Payment application you have lost income and are therefore suffering a financial loss.

How the payment will be made

You will receive payment by bank transfer into your account. For this reason it is very important the bank statements you supply with your application are up to date.

If you are overdrawn, you will need to write to your bank immediately and ask for a first right of appropriation of funds order referring to a self-isolation payment of £500. This means that if you are successful, the bank cannot use the payment towards paying off your overdraft.

The payment is taxable and HMRC will be informed of the £500 Test and Trace Support payment you have received.


You may face prosecution if you have manipulated or falsified your position in order to obtain these payments, including failure to self-isolate which puts others at risk. Any payment made as a result of fraud may be recoverable from you, as may any grants that have been paid in error. Anyone identified as failing to self-isolate will be reported to the police.

Advice and support

If you are struggling because of the pandemic more information can be found our Covid-19 pages.

If you are on a low income and would like some information about the help and support available please visit our Benefits pages.

You can also get independent advice from Citizens Advice Gateshead

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