Bracknell Forest residents, like others countrywide, must self-isolate if they test positive for COVID-19 or risk breaking a new law. The new law came in to force on Monday 28 September.
The law also applies to people who have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive and has been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or Public Health England.
To make sure that people on a lower income and who cannot work from home are able to self-isolate, a payment of £500 is available via a government package of support.
To be eligible, residents must meet all of these criteria:
- have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace on or after 28 September 2020
- be employed or self-employed
- be unable to work from home and will lose income as a result
- be currently receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit or Pension Credit
The council’s welfare and housing team has created an online application form for those who are eligible. Payments from 28 September will be back-dated, where appropriate. Anyone who isn’t able to access the internet can call 01344 352000.
Payment will be made directly to the recipient once the application is checked and supporting documents have been checked and verified.
Cllr Marc Brunel-Walker, Chair of the Local Outbreak Engagement Board, said:
“In order to protect our loved ones and our borough it’s really important that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, those who have tested positive, or those who have been identified as a close contact by NHS Test and Trace, self-isolate immediately. Please don’t risk passing this on to your family and friends, it could be especially serious if you pass it on to a loved one with underlying health conditions or those who are more vulnerable.
“If you are finding it difficult to self-isolate due to finances, please take a look at the payment criteria and apply for the £500 lump sum if you are eligible. We know this won’t help everyone, but it is intended to help those on a lower income who cannot work from home and have lost money as a result of self-isolation.”
Anyone with one of the 3 main COVID-19 symptoms must self-isolate immediately and apply for a test.
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
You can apply for a test by phoning 119 or booking a test online. If there are no tests showing locally, residents are advised to try again in a couple of hours. Only apply for a test if you have symptoms.
Those who test positive are legally required to self-isolate for a period ending 10 days after the onset of symptoms or, for people who did not have symptoms when they were tested, 10 days after the date of the test. Other members of their household are legally obliged to self-isolate for a period ending 14 days after the onset of the infected person’s symptoms (or, if they were asymptomatic, after the date of the test). Non-household contacts must legally self-isolate for the period notified to them by NHS Test and Trace.
The new law also makes it mandatory for anyone contacted by NHS Test and Trace to share information including an address. Plus, there is a legal duty on employers to not knowingly force employees to work during a period of self-isolation, including threats of redundancy.
More information about the support is available on GOV.UK.
Anyone who needs to self-isolate and does not have support available from family or friends, can access help with things such as food and medication deliveries via the Bracknell Forest Community Response.
The payment scheme will run from 28 September, 2020 to 31 January, 2021 but will be kept under review so may be extended or ended early.
The support payment will be a lump sum of £500 paid to those in the eligible categories. It is a taxable sum but will be disregarded for housing benefit and council tax reduction recipients.
To make a claim, people will need:
- a notification from NHS Test and Trace asking them to self-isolate (this will include a unique ID number)
- a bank statement
- proof of employment, or, if they are self-employed, evidence of self-assessment returns, trading income and proof that their business delivers services which cannot be undertaken without social contact
Suspected fraudulent claims will be reported to the police.