Test and Trace Self-Isolation Discretionary Payments Policy

Introduction to the Policy

From 28 September 2020 in England, there is a new legal duty on all UK residents who test positive for COVID-19 or are identified by the NHS Test and Trace as a close contact, requiring them to self-isolate. Failure to comply will be an offence carrying a fine of at least £1,000 and up to £10,000 for multiple breaches.

To support this the government has introduced support for those people on low incomes who must self-isolate and who are financially impacted because of this.

There are two payments schemes: Test and Trace Support Payments for those eligible applicants who are in receipt of a qualifying benefit and the Test and Trace Discretionary Payments Scheme (Discretionary Scheme) for those applicants who are not in receipt of any qualifying benefits but who are facing financial hardship as a result of not being able to work while they are self-isolating.

Given that the funding for the Discretionary Scheme is limited the Government has stated that it will be up to each Council to determine a scheme and qualifying criteria. This document details who will be eligible for a payment under the Cherwell District Council Test and Trace Discretionary Payments Scheme.

The scheme will run until 30 September 2021.

Purpose of the scheme

The scheme will provide a Test and Trace Discretionary Payment of £500, paid as a lump sum for those who meet the eligibility criteria below.

Who is eligible for support?

To be eligible for support an applicant must:

  • Live in the Cherwell District Council area
  • Have been notified to self-isolate on or after 28 September and not before that date
  • Have been notified to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace either because they have tested positive for COVID-19 or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive and
    • Be employed or self-employed
    • Be unable to work from home and will lose income as a result and not in receipt of any of the following benefits;
      • Universal Credit
      • Working Tax Credit
      • income-based Employment and Support Allowance
      • income-based Jobseekers Allowance
      • Income Support
      • Housing Benefit and/or
      • Pension Credit
    • Meet the Council’s additional criteria for a discretionary payment
    • Apply within 14 days of the last day of self-isolation

All criteria must be met to be eligible for a payment.

Individuals will not be entitled to apply for both a payment under the Support Scheme and under the Discretionary Scheme.

The scheme does not cover people who are self-isolating after returning to the UK from abroad, unless they have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been instructed to self-isolate by NHS test and Trace.

How much is the payment and how will it be paid?

Where an applicant meets all of the eligibility criteria for a discretionary payment, a single payment of £500 will be paid for each period of self-isolation (periods of self-isolation may not overlap). Payments will made direct to the applicant’s bank account within 3 working days of application.

Where further information or evidence is required from the applicant, the council will look to make payments within 3 working days of receipt of all the required information.

Payments can only be made to the applicant’s bank account. No payments can be made to a third party.

Will these payments be taxed?

These payments will be subject to income tax; however, they will not be subject to National Insurance contributions. You will be contacted by HMRC regarding the tax payable on this payment at a later date, it will not be taxed at the point of payment.

Application process

Individuals who are resident within the Cherwell District Council area may make an application for a Test and Trace Discretionary Payment. We created an online application form, and have designed the application process so that the same form can be used to claim either the Support Payment or the Discretionary Payment. Applicants who do not qualify for a Support Payment will automatically be directed to the Discretionary Scheme.

All applicants will be required to provide details including:

  • National Insurance number
  • full name
  • date or birth
  • Unique ID number as provided by the NHS Test and Trace. You must have this number to make an application. We will not accept a notification from the NHS Isolation Note service.

In addition to the above, all applicants will be required to confirm and provide evidence for one of the following:

  • that they are awaiting the outcome of a claim for a qualifying benefit for the Support Scheme or
  • that they are not entitled to a qualifying benefit by virtue of immigration status and designation that they have no recourse to public funds
  • that they are suffering extreme financial hardship due to loss of income from self-isolation.We will require applicants to provide proof of this and applicants will be required to complete an income and expenditure form which will be included as part of the application process. This is an essential requirement in order for a Test and Trace Discretionary Payment to be made.

If you are unable to complete the form online, please call us on 01295 227002 and we will arrange to contact you to complete the form on your behalf.

Multiple claims within the household and from same applicant

Individuals in the same household can each make an application to receive a Test and Trace Discretionary payment, if they each meet all the eligibility criteria in full.

An individual may make more than one application if

  • The individual is told to self-isolate on more than one occasion and
  • They meet all the eligibility criteria and
  • The periods of isolation do not overlap

A new application must be made for each period of self-isolation.

How we will use and share this information

Information collected during the application process will be used to assess an applicants’ claim. Information will be cross matched with other data held by the council and third-party agencies eg DWP, HMRC for verification purposes.

In assessing a claim, it may be appropriate to make referrals within the council or to external agencies to provide advice or support.

We treat all its information that we hold on file with the upmost care and confidentiality. For more on our Privacy Policies and to see how we use and share your data, please see our Privacy pages.

Notification of Decisions

All decisions made by us will be notified to the applicant either in writing or by email.

We will aim to make decisions within 3 working days where an application form and supporting evidence are supplied

Appeals Process

There is no right to appeal, and the decision of the Council is final.

Funding and Policy amendments

We will receive a fixed amount of funding from Government which is intended to last until 31 January 2021. The Government has confirmed that no additional funding will be given to Councils.

In view of this and to ensure that discretionary payments are available for the period, we reserve the right to amend the scheme at any point depending on the level of the demand and any other relevant factors.

Managing the risk of fraud

Neither we, nor the Government will accept deliberate manipulation of the scheme. You may face prosecution if you have manipulated or falsified your position in order to obtain payment, including failure to self-isolate which put others at risk.

We reserve the right to reclaim any payment made in error or where post-payment checks demonstrate that payment should not have been made. Where we identify that individuals have not self-isolated, we also have an obligation to notify the Police.

Useful Links

You can find the latest information about Coronavirus (COVID-19), and get advice on symptoms, self-isolation and keeping yourself and your family healthy, at the following: