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Test and Trace £500 payment scheme extended

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Low-income workers required to self-isolate will be able to claim a £500 support payment until the end of March, the government has confirmed.

The Test and Trace support payment scheme offers £500 to eligible claimants in England who are told they need to self-isolate after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

It was due to end this month but the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed the payment will be available until 31 March 2021.

The extension will also apply to users of the Covid-19 app who receive automatic alerts (rather than from human contact tracers) instructing them to isolate.

The £500 Test and Trace payment was introduced in September and is available to those in England who meet the following criteria:

  • Told by NHS Test and Trace or via the Covid-19 app that they’re required to self-isolate
  • Employed or self-employed
  • Unable to work from home and will lose income as a result
  • 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.

The scheme is administered by local authorities and an initial £50m of government funding was provided last year.

The government has now provided an extra £20m to cover the extension period.

This includes an additional £10m to enable local authorities to continue making discretionary payments to people who fall outside the scope of the main scheme, but who will still face hardship if required to self-isolate.

As of 6 January, more than 58 million tests have been processed in the UK in total since testing began.

More than one million people were contacted and told to self-isolate during the first week of 2021, people who might otherwise have gone on to infect others.

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