COVID Test & Trace Support Payment


From 28 September 2020, you might be able to get a payment of £500 if you need to self-isolate because of coronavirus (COVID-19) and you cannot work from home. The scheme is due to end on 31 January 2021.

This payment is available in England and Wales. In Wales it’s called the ‘Self-isolation support scheme’.

Find out what financial support you can get if you are in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

If you are employed, you’ll pay tax on the payment if you go over your tax-free personal allowance. Your tax code will change to collect the tax. You will not pay National Insurance contributions on the payment. If you’re self-employed you must report the payment on your Self Assessment tax return.


You can get the payment if all of the following apply:

  • you are self-isolating because you tested positive for coronavirus, or because you were told to by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app

  • you are employed or self-employed and unable to work from home

  • you are on a low income - for example if you get certain benefits

Your council website will tell you what counts as being on a low income.

You cannot get the payment if you are self-isolating because you came to the UK from abroad.

People in the same household can each make an individual application to receive the payment, if they each meet the eligibility criteria.

Someone can claim more than once (if they are told to self-isolate multiple times), as long as they meet the eligibility criteria for each individual claim and their periods of self-isolation do not overlap.

Discretionary Scheme Eligibility

A discretionary payment of £500 can be made to individuals who meet all the following criteria:

  1. have been told to stay at home and self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, either because they have tested positive for coronavirus or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive. A notification from the Test and Trace app is not adequate at present. You must have had either a text or email sent to you by NHS Test and Trace containing an 8 digit unique identifier either inviting you to create an account if you test positive, reminding you to do this, or giving advice on self-isolation and

  2. are employed or self-employed; and

  3. are unable to work from home and will lose income as a result.

In addition, the discretionary payment is designed for people who:

  1. are not 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; and?

  2. are on low incomes and will face financial hardship as a result of not being able to work while they are self-isolating.

Additional criteria for a discretionary payment

The following (additional) will also be used to determine eligibility for discretionary payments:

  • people who have applied for a benefit or been refused and have made an appeal against the decision for a discretionary payment so long as they meet the other statutory and discretionary criteria.

  • the same will apply to persons from abroad who are excluded from claiming benefits but meet all the other statutory and discretionary criteria.

  • applicants who have a gross weekly earnings figure of no more than £372 per week (40 hours x £9.30 per hour living wage)

  • an applicant would suffer severe financial hardship if a payment is not made (evidence of this is required)

  • an applicant must have capital (savings) less than £6,000

Full time university students

Universities have been given over £250m in addition to their existing hardship funds to help students through the Coronavirus pandemic. If the university is unable to assist financially then students can apply provided, they meet the criteria.

Test & Trace Process

A notification from the Test and Trace App is not adequate for the scheme. You must have had either a text or email sent to you by NHS Test and Trace containing an 8 digit unique identifier, either inviting you to create an account if you test positive, reminding you to do this, or giving advice on self-isolation.

It is important that you provide accurate details to NHS Test and Trace either over the phone or by updating your own details online through the link in the text or email. This will enable you to check your personal details such as name, date of birth and postcode

Everyone who has completed the Test and Trace questionnaire will receive a message (sent either via a text message or email or post for people with no access to mobile phone or email) containing the unique 8 character Account ID.

If you meet the payment eligibility criteria, we will need to validate your unique 8 digit reference number before the payment can be processed.


You need to make an application via your local council. Most councils have an online application process.

Before you start to complete the online form, please make sure that you have:

  • reviewed and completed all of your NHS Test and Trace details such as date of birth and post code

  • received a notification with a unique 8 digit reference number

  • read and meet the eligibility criteria

  • have all the appropriate evidence ready to upload.

Where it is not possible to apply online, applicants should call their local council direct, and ask forTest and Trace support payments.


Retrospective applications can be made if the local council did not have the scheme set up in time for local residents, providing the criteria was met at the time, and the claim does not relate to a date before 28 September 2020.

Eligible individuals can make a claim up to 14 days after their period of self-isolation ended.

Third Party Applications

Applicants can apply on behalf of someone else; however, the £500 must be paid into a bank account in the name of the person for whom the application is being made. For example, if someone applied on behalf of a parent, the payment would be made into the parent’s bank account.

Bank Accounts with an overdraft

If the applicants bank account is overdrawn, they can exercise their first right of appropriation on the £500 payment, so the bank does not use it to pay the overdraft.


There is no right of appeal within this scheme, but if an individual is rejected because they do not meet the eligibility criteria for the Test and Trace Support Payment, local authorities may wish to consider if the individual meets the criteria for a discretionary payment.