People on low incomes who need to self-isolate and are unable to work from home in areas with high rates of COVID-19 will benefit from a new payment scheme from September 1.
Starting with a trial in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham, eligible individuals who test positive with the virus will receive £130 for their 10-day period of self-isolation.
Other members of their household, who have to self-isolate for 14 days, will be entitled to a payment of £182.
Non-household contacts advised to self-isolate through NHS Test and Trace will also be entitled to a payment of up to £182, tailored to the individual length of their isolation period.
It is designed to support people who are unable to work from home while self-isolating, either after testing positive, or after being identified by NHS Test and Trace as living in the same household as – or coming into contact with – someone who has tested positive.
It will be available to people currently receiving either Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The British public have already sacrificed a great deal to help slow the spread of the virus. Self-isolating if you have tested positive for COVID-19, or have come into contact with someone who has, remains vital to keeping on top of local outbreaks.
“This new payment scheme will help people on low incomes and who are unable to work from home to continue playing their part in the national fight against this virus.”
Payments will be provided within 48 hours of the eligible individual providing the necessary evidence. Individuals will be asked to provide a notification from NHS Test and Trace and a bank statement.
Local authorities can also check the NHS Test and Trace system to confirm the individual has been asked to self-isolate, if the individual is unable to provide this information.
The council will put in place checks to prevent fraud and ensure compliance through welfare check-ins, phone calls and employment checks.
The government said there will be a rapid review of the scheme in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham to assess the performance consider how effectively vulnerable people have been reached, and consider how far it has helped reduce transmission of the virus in these areas.
If the approach is successful, the scheme will be applied in other areas of high COVID-19 incidence.