20 Apr 2021

You have a legal duty to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid-19 or are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told to self-isolate. Find out more about financial and practical support here.

If you are contacted or have a confirmed positive test you will be told to begin self-isolation for 10 days. It’s really important to do this even if you don’t feel unwell because you could still be infectious to others. Failure to self-isolate for the full time period can result in a fine, starting from £1,000.

If you are on a low income and cannot work during this self-isolation period, you may be able to access a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment, which will be paid directly into your bank account.

The scheme has been extended to include parents or guardians who are not legally required to self-isolate, but who are having to take time off work to care for a child or young person aged 15 or under (or 25 or under with an Education, Health and Care Plan) who has been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or by their education or care setting. 

The scheme will run till 30 June 2021.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for a Test and Trace Support Payment, you must meet all the following requirements:

  • Live within boundaries of St Helens Borough Council. (Please contact your local authority if you live outside this area.)
  • You have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace either because you have tested positive for coronavirus or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, or you are the parent or guardian of a child or young person who lives in the same household as you who has been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or by an education or care setting.
  • You are working (either employed or self-employed).
  • You are unable to work from home and will lose income due to self-isolating or due to you having to care for a child or young person who is having to self-isolate.
  • You are currently in receipt of either:  Universal Credit; Working Tax Credit; income-related Employment and Support Allowance; income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance; Income Support; Housing Benefit; and / or Pension Credit

In exceptional circumstances, you may be able to apply for a discretionary £500 payment if you satisfy points one to above of the above eligibility criteria but are not in receipt of a qualifying benefit and would suffer financial hardship due to not being able to work.

How to apply

To apply for this payment, you should complete an online form and provide the following evidence in support of your claim:

  • Notification from NHS Test and Trace asking you to self-isolate (this should include a unique 8-character Test and Trace Account ID).
  • Proof you are claiming a qualifying benefit.
  • Proof of your bank account for payment e.g. bank statement.
  • Proof of employment e.g. a copy of a recent wage slip.
  • If you are self-employed, we will need to see evidence of self-assessment returns, trading income and proof that your business delivers services which cannot be undertaken without social contact.
  • If claiming in respect of a child or young person, evidence of their 8 digit NHS Test and Trace account I/D, or a letter from their education or care setting or a screenshot from the NHS Covid-19 App together with their Education, Health and Care plan asking them to self-isolate.


Your application must be made no later than 28 days from the start date of your period of self-isolation.

If you satisfy the above criteria and would like to apply for an NHS Test and Trace Support Payment, please complete the council's online application form here.

If you are unable to make an online application, please contact St Helens Together on 01744 676767.

Discretionary Award

If you are not receiving a qualifying benefit but would experience severe financial hardship as a result of you being unable to work, the council may be able to consider your application under the discretionary rules. You may be asked to provide details of your current financial circumstances. This information can be provided by completing the online income and expenditure form here.

Further information

  • Test and Trace Payments will be disregarded when calculating eligibility for other benefits. This includes calculating entitlement to Universal Credit.
  • This payment is subject to income tax, but you will not be taxed at the point of payment. You will be contacted separately by HM Revenue and Customs or you will need to declare the payment on your self-assessment tax return.
  • People in the same household can each make an individual application to receive the payment if they each meet the above eligibility criteria.
  • Someone can claim more than once (if they are told to self-isolate multiple times), so long as they meet the eligibility criteria for each individual claim and their periods of self-isolation do not overlap.
  • Payments will be made into a bank account; if you are overdrawn you may need to request your bank to exercise your first right of appropriation on the £500 payment.
  • Appointees 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.
  • If the council become aware that you have failed to self-isolate, then the matter may be referred to the police and you will be required to repay any payments made to you.

Other support

As well as potential finance support that residents may be entitled to, St Helens Together will also provide support for the following:

  • Pick up your food shopping, essential supplies or medication and leave them on your doorstep
  • Have a friendly chat with you on the phone
  • Walk your dog