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Frequently asked questions | Test and Trace support payment | Birmingham City Council

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Frequently asked questions

Can I apply on behalf of someone else (i.e. a friend or relative)?

Yes, however you will still need to supply the relevant evidence on their behalf

Is there a minimum number of hours a week people must work in order to apply?

No

Will the payments be pro-rata for people in part-time jobs?

No.

What about people who have had to self-isolate in the past? Have they missed out?

This is a new scheme which is available to anyone who self-isolates from 28 September. Those who have self-isolated when asked to have played a critical role in controlling the virus, and protecting their friends and family. This is a new measure designed to support those facing severe financial hardships and in the most vulnerable situations.

Who is responsible for making the payments?

Local authorities are delivering these payments and costs are being reimbursed by the UK Government.

Can I have a cheque payment?

The government guidance clearly states that payments should be made directly in to bank accounts within 3 working days of all evidence being received. If you do not have a bank account, you will need to call us on 0121 464 7000 Option 3 and explain why you need a cheque payment.

Which bank account will the money be paid in to?

The money must be paid in to the same bank account as the one submitted with the application.

What if I am overdrawn on my bank account?

You should speak to your bank if you are concerned about not being able to access this payment and explain that this is a Benefit payment. Banks are not allowed to use housing benefit or any other benefit to repay an overdraft. You can protect your Test and Trace Isolation Payments by telling your bank it should only be used for essential living expenses such as rent or food etc. This protection is called a 'first right of appropriation of funds order'. You can use the first right of appropriation on any money being paid into your account.
For example, you may want to make sure that your Test and Trace award or job seekers allowance (JSA) is used to pay your electricity bill and water rates. You will need to tell your bank how to use these payments. In order to request a first right of appropriation of funds order, you will need to write to your bank at least seven days before your Test and Trace payment is due, making it clear that this payment from Birmingham City Council is to pay for your rent or for other essential requirements due to being told to self-isolate by the NHS.
For example, you may want to instruct your bank or building society:
"On or around 20 October 2020, I will receive a one-off payment from Birmingham City Council due to test and trace self-isolation. This will be paid into my current account number 0101010101. I am exercising my first right of appropriation over these funds and wish you to pay the following items from it: £75 standing order payable to my landlord, Mr Smith on the 25th of the month."

Keep a copy of the letter in case there is any dispute later. You may want to ask your bank or building society for a written acknowledgement of your instructions.
If there are any items you no longer want to pay from your account, or which you cannot afford, you should give your bank separate cancellation instructions. This is because the first right of appropriation does not stop the bank paying items as well as those you have listed. If you do not cancel these items, your bank may return the items as unpaid, which they may charge you for. However, payments from your account to repay a loan with the same bank cannot be cancelled.

Is there a time limit for making applications?

Yes, currently you must make a claim within 14 days of the end of your period of self-isolation. Birmingham City Council cannot accept applications after this point. For example, if you have been instructed by NHS Test and Trace on 1 October to stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days, your isolation period ends on 15 October and you must apply for the Test and Trace Support Payment by 28 October.

Can you claim for every period of self-isolation?

Yes, applicants will be able to claim more than once if they meet the eligibility criteria on more than one occasion. These self-isolation periods must not overlap.

How will the application process work and what evidence is required?

People should apply online. (telephone access is available for those without any digital access)

What evidence is required with the application?

  • An 8-digit unique number from NHS Test and Trace and
  • A bank statement and
  • Proof of employment
  • Confirmation from an employer that they are unable to work from home. If you are self-employed, evidence of self-assessment returns, trading income and proof that their business delivers services which cannot be undertaken without social contact.

What format do you except for uploading evidence?

You will need to upload evidence in support of your application such as your NHS test and trace self-isolating notification, bank statement and employment proof to the form.
We accept:

  • PDFs
  • word documents (.doc or .docx)
  • images (.jpg or .png)

Will everyone in a household be eligible to apply or only one person?

All those who meet the criteria set out can apply individually. Members of the same household can also apply provided they meet the criteria.

Will it apply to those who are self-isolating because of a recent trip to a country not on the travel corridor list?

No. the scheme is for people on low incomes who cannot work from home. It is not for people returning from abroad who are required to self isolate as a result of having visited a country not on the travel corridor list.

People quarantining will not be eligible unless they subsequently develop symptoms, test positive and meet all other eligibility criteria.

Will EU citizens or foreign citizens be eligible?

All those who meet the eligibility criteria can apply.

What if someone is working illegally?

Anyone applying will need to demonstrate evidence of employment. Where it is suspected that someone applying for the payment is working illegally, the relevant authorities will escalate the matter to immigration enforcement and/or the police.

How will you combat fraud and people who repeatedly claim this payment?

This will be taken very seriously. Individuals who are found to have committed fraud (or to have attempted to do so) will be prosecuted. Local authorities also have the right to recoup money, taking any necessary recovery action.

Will the self-isolation payments be taxed?

Yes. these payments will be subject to income tax but not National Insurance contributions.

How long will this be in place for?

The scheme will initially run until 31 January 2021.

If I am waiting for a test, can I claim the payment?

Only if you have been identified as a close contact of somebody who has tested positive and instructed to isolate by NHS Test and Trace.

Can I apply if I have a zero hours contract?

Yes, provided you meet the criteria

I have lost more than £500 in income due to loss of work; can I claim more money?

No, people will receive £500 as a lump sum, regardless of how much they have lost in income.

Are students eligible?

You may be eligible for the payment if you are a student and you receive one of the qualifying benefits (Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit or Pension Credit) because, for example, you are a part-time student, are disabled or have children. 
If you don't receive any of these benefits you should contact your university or college welfare team to see what financial support they can give you, most have funds available that offer support for students facing financial hardship. If you rely on your wages to pay your accommodation costs, are experiencing hardship, and can't get help from your college or university then you can apply for a Test and Trace Self-Isolation Support Payment under the discretionary scheme and we will consider your application.

Are children eligible for this payment or can I receive this payment for my children in addition to myself?

No. Children are not eligible for this payment. A child is classed as someone that is under 18 and not working or a 19 year old whose parent still receive Child Benefit.

If my child is identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive and advised to self-isolate, am I eligible for this payment if I have to stay at home to look after them?

You would not be eligible for this payment. However, if you meet the criteria, you can apply for the Discretionary scheme in cases of particular hardship.

If I cannot work because of a local lockdown or the temporary closure of a workplace, am I eligible for this payment?

No, the payments are for people who have to self-isolate at home and will lose income as a result.

Can I apply if I am currently furloughed?

Yes, you can apply if you are on furlough but you will need to meet all the criteria for the scheme.

Can I claim if I am only staying at an address in Birmingham on a temporary basis?

No, you should claim from your permanent address as this is where records to confirm your entitlement are held. We will check the information that you provide to check that you permanently reside at the address that you provide.

I am classed by the government as having no recourse to public funds due to my immigration’s status, I am on a low income and cannot claim any benefits, can I claim this if I can’t go into work?

You can claim from the discretionary scheme.

I’ve just found out that I am now eligible for a benefit that would have qualified me for a Test and Trace Support Payment, can I make a backdated claim?

No, you must have been in receipt of the benefit at the time you applied for the payment. 

What if I have two jobs?  I can work from home on one but not the other and will be losing money. Can I claim?

Yes, if you can evidence that you have lost income as a result of self-isolating you will receive a grant. This is providing the other criteria are met.

Are those advised to self-isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app eligible?

Anyone who receives notification of a positive test result (including app users who initially report their symptoms through the app and are referred on to the test booking system) will be able to apply for the Test and Trace Support Payment, if they meet the other eligibility criteria.

I do not have access to the internet, what can I do?

You can ask a member of your household to help you apply. If you need to ask someone who doesn't live with you to help, please make sure you do not break the self-isolation rules.
The application form is online, you just need access to the internet. Most mobile phones have internet access.
To upload evidence, you can take a photo(s) using a mobile phone or tablet and upload the photo(s) using that device. 
A friend, relative neighbour can make the application on your behalf, using their mobile device or computer, but we can only pay the money into your bank account.
If you have no access to the internet and no-one to help you please ring us on 0121 464 7000 option 3 and we will help you. Please note that this may delay your application as we will still need you to provide some evidence.

Shielding

Will those who are shielding be eligible for the ‘Test and Trace Support’ payment?

Yes, provided you have been asked to isolate by NHS Test and Trace and meet the other eligibility criteria.