Benefits and financial support
Test and Trace support payment
Please note that with the government removing all covid-19 restrictions, people who have tested positive after 23 February will no longer be able to make a claim for this payment. If you were contacted before 23 February, you can still claim within 42 days of receiving your notification. No claims will be accepted after 6 April 2022.
Applying for the NHS Test and Trace support payment
You must be employed to qualify for a Test and Trace support payment. You will be asked for evidence that will show recent income from your employer or your business as part of the application.
If you are currently on furlough, or working from home, then you will not qualify for a Test and Trace Support Payment.
If you are having a difficulty applying for the payment online, or you have a query about an application please email email@example.com or call 020 7520 7217.
Information about the Test and Trace support payment
To be eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment, you must be:
1. asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace either because you have tested positive for Covid-19 or have recently been in close contact with someone who tested positive and are not double vaccinated.
2. employed or self-employed
3. unable to work from home and in a position where you will lose income as a result
4. 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.
If eligible, you may be supported with a lump sum payment of £500
This payment will be subject to income tax. It will not be subject to National Insurance contributions.
The payment will not affect any benefits or tax credits a person receives.
If you meet criteria 1-3 but do not receive any benefits, you may still qualify if you earn less than £30,000
Claims can be backdated up to 42 days from the first day of self-isolation.
Eligibility for children self-isolating from an educational setting
Parents may be eligible to apply for the £500 support payment if:
- Parents of children aged 15 and under
- Parents of a child/young adult aged 25 and under and with a special educational plan in place
In each case, the child/young adult must have:
- Tested positive through a PCR test and been provided with an 8 digit reference number by NHS Test and Trace
- Or, have been told to isolate legally by the local health protection team.
Please note that a child does not need to isolate if they are a close contact.
As the parent or guardian you must directly care for the child, meaning that you need to take time off work and will as a result lose income. Please make sure to contact NHS Test and Trace and note yourself as a close contact of your child. NHS Test and Trace will provide you with an 8 digit reference number which you will need when you make your application.
Notified to self-isolate by the NHS Covid app
Anyone who receives notification of a positive test result will be able to apply for the Test and Trace Support Payment, if they meet the other eligibility criteria.
If the app has told you to self-isolate because you’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, and you have not completed the steps to receive a reference number, you will be required to provide a screenshot of your close contact notification.
Can residents apply more than once?
A person may be entitled to more than one payment if instructed to self-isolate for different periods that do not overlap, and they meet the eligibility criteria set out above.
Also, multiple applications may be made by different people within a single household provided each person meets the eligibility criteria set out above.
How do I apply?
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7520 7217.
When do I apply?
You should apply as soon as you can from the date you have been told to self-isolate. However, people who are eligible can apply after the start of their self-isolation period up to 6 weeks on from the end of the self-isolation period.
Can someone apply on my behalf?
Applications can be made on behalf of a person eligible to claim but the payment must be made into a bank account held in the name of the person entitled.
What evidence will I need to provide to support an application?
You will need to provide:
A notification from NHS Test and Trace asking you to self-isolate.
Evidence confirming that you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit.
Proof of employment.
Residents who are self-employed will need to provide their trading returns and evidence that some of their trade cannot be undertaken while they are self-isolating
A bank statement held in their name into which payment of the NHS Test and Trace payment can be made.
Is the payment taxable?
The payment will be subject to income tax. It will not be subject to national insurance contributions.
What if I am self-employed?
The payment will be a coronavirus support payment and the NHS Test and Trace payment should be included in your revenue receipt for your business and contributes towards your profits. You should include it on your self-assessment tax return along with any other coronavirus support payments you may have received.
What if I am employed?
There is nothing you need to do. If your income for the year is not more than £12,500, you will not have any tax to pay. If tax is due, HMRC will automatically recover it from your pay through a change in your tax code. HMRC will send you a new tax code notice.
Can I claim the payment while receiving statutory sick pay?
People can claim statutory sick pay as well as the NHS Test and Trace support payment, but not contractual sick pay from their employer. Employers can claim statutory sick pay reimbursement for employees that need to self-isolate.
Does the payment impact existing benefit entitlements?
No, the payment does not affect existing entitlements to universal credit, pension credit, income-related employment and support allowance, income-based job seekers allowance, income support, pension credit or housing benefit. The payment will also be disregarded as income for the purposes of tax credits.
The council will write to notify you of the outcome of your application and where a payment is authorised, it will be paid direct to your bank account by BACS.
Although there is no formal right of appeal, you will be able to contact the council if you feel a decision is wrong. We will then look at the decision again and write to let you know the outcome.
Please note that where you have been asked to provide further information and have not done so within four weeks, your application will be closed. No applications will be processed after 30 April as the government systems will be closed at this point.
Residents' Support Scheme
The Residents' Support Scheme is designed to help residents who are either in or at risk of being in crisis or are in need of immediate help and have no source of financial support available to them.
The scheme can help with short-term living costs such as credit food and gas/electric pre-payment metres. It can also help in some circumstances with white goods and furniture. Cash will not usually be awarded, but a pay point voucher can be supplied to the applicant where necessary.
You can apply online.
If you are finding it difficult to apply online, or if you have a query about a new or existing application, please email email@example.com or call 020 7520 7217.
If you would like to appeal a previously refused application, or you wish to make a formal complaint, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Praxis Hardship Fund – For no recourse to public funds (NRPF)
Praxis has been awarded funding from the council to give small emergency grants (£50-£100) to migrant residents at risk of poverty and homelessness as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Migrants with no recourse to public funds are at more risk during this period as they cannot claim benefits if they lose their job or get ill.
Praxis is offering immigration advice and support to migrant residents. This is in addition to the small emergency grants funded by the council to help people buy food, toiletries, mobile data and other essential items.
Praxis currently has a long waiting list for advice referrals so please apply as soon as you can.
Thursday 10am to 12.30pm
Support with new Universal Credit applications
The council has a dedicated phone line for people who want help with Universal Credit.
To book a phone appointment with a council officer, please call 020 7364 7010.
Welfare benefits advice
The council is working with local advice agencies to continue providing welfare benefits advice remotely. Their contact details are listed below. All our partners are experiencing unprecedented demand so we would ask you to keep trying if you cannot get through at your first attempt.
Tower Hamlets Community Advice Network
The Tower Hamlets Community Advice Network (THCAN) is a partnership of local advice centres that provide free advice and representation in areas of social welfare law. The advice centres work together through THCAN to ensure that Tower Hamlets residents have access to free, high quality advice on welfare benefits, debt, housing and other areas of social welfare law.
The THCAN website is kept up to date with resources and information about advice providers that can help during this crisis and beyond.
Protecting and supporting vulnerable residents who are affected or experience hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is one of our top priorities. We are working with the government on this and working through plans on what this will look like.
We will of course continue our usual housing benefit administration. We are also making changes to our processes to help residents who may have to self isolate, particularly where we need information and evidence from them in support of their claims.
While housing benefit is a Department for Work and Pensions benefit administered by local authorities, we are also aware that residents may experience sudden reductions in their income and that this may be the case for the months ahead. In these circumstances, we will adjust the housing benefit entitlement to help our residents pay their rent.
We have a council tax reduction scheme, which offers support to residents. The scheme is means tested and the council offers a 100 per cent discount on council tax for residents on the lowest incomes.
What to do if you’re income suddenly stops or reduces:
If you currently receive housing benefit and/or local council tax reduction
If you do not currently receive housing benefit and/or local council tax reduction
Check whether you are entitled to universal credit on the government's website, and if so make an online claim.
You should also claim council tax reduction from the council using this link.
If you are not eligible for universal credit you can claim both housing benefit and council tax reduction from the council using a single application form.
Support from energy suppliers
Working with the government, energy suppliers are in the process of putting in place new measures to help customers who need support around prepayment meters, or for people who are in vulnerable circumstances and may be unable to pay their bills.
You can find a summary of how prepayment suppliers are helping customers, along with helpful contact information on the MoneySavingExpert website. This page will be continually updated as more information becomes available.
Changes to the Taxicard scheme
London Councils are contacting members of the Taxicard scheme via text message or letters with changes to the Taxicard scheme.
The rules for the taxicard have been relaxed to
Find out more
Extra support available for people with direct payments
We understand that during this period additional support may be needed for people with direct payments and/or a personal health budget. To make things easier, we have allowed additional flexibility for direct payment recipients to amend their support package if this is required and meets their needs.
Further information is available on our direct payments page.