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Benefits and financial support

Test and Trace support payment

It is a legal requirement to self-isolate if you or someone you have been in close contact with tests positive for Covid-19.

The government have now announced a new financial package to support and enforce self-isolation.

In some circumstances, if you are required by law to self-isolate from 28 September you may be supported by a payment of £500. This payment will be made to eligible Tower Hamlets residents by the council.

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 PaymentYou can apply for the support payment by filling in an online form.

If you are having a difficulty applying for the payment online, or you have a query about an application please email lwpqueries@necsws.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.

Discretionary payments

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

Since the return of the school year, 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 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 therefore are not eligible.

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 (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. 

  • 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, you will need to follow some steps to request your Account ID. This is because the app is anonymous, so you need to register with NHS Test and Trace by following a link in the app. You must do this while you are in your self-isolation period. You cannot request your Account ID after you’ve finished self-isolating.

  • To start the process, select ‘Financial support’. This button appears on the home screen of the app when you’ve been told to self-isolate because you’ve been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus.

  • You’ll be taken to a website which will ask you for some information to check whether you could be eligible. None of the information you provide will be passed back to the app. The app is designed to protect your privacy and does not know who or where you are.

  • If your answers show that you may be eligible for the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment, there are 4 steps to apply for the payment.

  • Step 1 - Confirm who you are with NHS login

    • You need to log in or register with NHS login so we can check who you are. If you are registering, you will receive a confirmation link in an email. When you read the email, make sure you keep the existing screen open so that you can continue to the next step.

    Step 2 - Enter personal details

    • You will be asked to enter your name so that NHS Test and Trace can carry out some checks. None of your personal details will be given to the app.

    Step 3 - Register with NHS Test and Trace

    • You will get an email and text message from NHS Test and Trace within one hour.  Communication hours are between 7.30 am to 8.30 pm. If you register outside of these hours, there may be a delay in receipt of the email or text message until opening hours resume. Read about what to do if you have not received this email or text message.
    • These messages will include a link which you need to follow to complete your registration with NHS Test and Trace. You must do this while you are still in your self-isolation period. You will not be able to apply for the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment without completing this step.
    • Once you have completed your registration, you will receive a final confirmation email and text message from NHS Test and Trace. You will then be subject to the legal obligation to self-isolate

    Step 4 - Apply to your local authority

    • Once you have received this second email or text message with your NHS Test and Trace Account ID, you can apply for the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment from your local authority. You can apply to your local authority up to 2 weeks after your self-isolation period has ended. Receiving an NHS Test and Trace Account ID does not necessarily mean you will be eligible for the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment. You must request the Account ID during the self-isolation period. Once you have this, you can claim up until 14 days after your self-isolation period ended.
    • Your local authority may also ask you to provide additional evidence to prove your eligibility.
    • Further information

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?

You can apply for the support payment by filling in an online form.

If you are having a difficulty applying for the payment online, or you have a query about an application please email lwpqueries@necsws.com 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.  

Payments

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.

Appeals

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. Information about how residents can appeal will be made available in due course.

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 lwpqueries@northgateps.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 lwpappeal@northgateps.com

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.

You can apply or refer clients to us by using the online advice form or call 020 7749 7608 or 020 7749 7605 for advice on

  • Wednesday 2–4pm

  • 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.

Organisation

Telephone advice

E-mail

Account 3

020 7739 7720

admin@account3.org.uk

Age UK

020 8981 7124

info@ageukeastlondon.org.uk

Apasen

020 7001 2266

syeda.ara@apasen.org.uk

Bromley by Bow Centre

020 8709 9757

020 8709 9745

Advice@bbbc.org.uk

Carers Centre Tower Hamlets

020 7709 1765

enquiries@ccth.org.uk

Citizens Advice Bureau

020 3855 4472

advice@eastendcab.org.uk

DeafPlus

077 4570 8878 (Text only)

Aiysha.begum@deafplus.org

Fair Finance

020 3475 8811

info@fairmoneyadvice.co.uk

Financial Health Centre

020 7364 2200

fhc@thh.org.uk

Island Advice Centre

020 7987 9379

admin@island-advice.org.uk

Legal Advice Centre

020 3606 0372

admin@legaladvicecentre.london

Limehouse Project

020 7538 0075

info@limehouseproject.org.uk

Mind in Tower Hamlets and Newham

020 7510 1081

info@mithn.org.uk

Ocean Somali Community Centre

 

abdi@oceansomali.org.uk

Paxis

020 7749 7608 (Wednesday 2 - 4pm)

020 7749 7605 (Thursday 10am - 12.30pm)

admin@praxis.org.uk

Positive East

020 7791 2855

talktome@positiveeast.org.uk

St Hildas

020 7739 8066 (Monday to Thursday, 10am - 2pm)

alaya@sthildas.org.uk

St Peter

020 7729 1036

stpetersba@live.co.uk

Stifford Centre

020 7790 3632

info@stifford.org.uk

Tower Hamlets Law Centre

020 7538 4909

info@thlc.co.uk

Tower Hamlets Resident Support Outreach Service

020 7364 7010 

LBTHResidentSupport@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Toynbee

020 7392 2953 

advice@toynbeehall.org.uk

 

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.

Housing benefit

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 weeks ahead. In these circumstances, we will adjust the housing benefit entitlement to help our residents pay their rent.

Council tax

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 

  1. Check whether you are entitled to universal credit on the government's website, and if so make an online claim.

  2. You should also claim council tax reduction from the council using this link. 

  3. 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 

  • allow Taxicard drivers to pick up and deliver essential supplies for you; and

  • allow friends and family to travel on your behalf using your Taxicard for the same purpose.

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.