BRITS who are self-isolating after catching coronavirus can apply for financial support.
Covid restrictions have been ramped up as the new Omicron strain of Covid spreads across the country.
The latest data shows that daily Covid cases have hit more than 100,000, and infections are up 53% on last week, scuppering Christmas plans for many families.
The stay at home order was scrapped for vaccinated people who were contacts of confirmed Covid cases when lockdown lifted earlier this year.
But now, even those who have been double or triple-jabbed will have to self-isolate if they've come into contact with someone with Omicron.
Covid rules were tightened earlier this month as the government triggered "Plan B" in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.
Face masks are compulsory indoors, vaccine passports are required for large events and people have been told to resume working from home.
No further restrictions are expected before Christmas but there could be a two-week circuit breaker after December 25.
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People who have Covid or any of the main symptoms are still required to stay home.
If you're asked to self-isolate you won't be able to leave your home for any reason for up to 10 days.
That could have a knock on impact on your job if you can't work from home – we explain how to get extra help while self-isolating.
Who has to self-isolate?
You have to stay at home if you've one of the three most common Covid symptoms which are:
- A new, continuous cough
- A high temperature
- A loss, or change, to your sense of taste or smell
If you get a positive PCR test result you will have to continue to self-isolate too.
People who are double vaccinated don't have to isolate if they've been in contact with a confirmed Covid case – unless it's the new Omicron variant.
NHS Test and Trace will let you know if this is the case.
If you’re travelling to England from abroad you must take a PCR test before the end of day 2 following your arrival.
You have to self-isolate until you get a negative test result, even if you’re fully vaccinated.
New rules introduced this week allow people to end their isolaltion period after seven days – rather than 10 – if they test negative for Covid.
Who is eligible to claim the £500 support?
You might be able to get a payment of £500 if you’re on a low income and meet these conditions:
- you’re employed or self-employed
- you, or a child you’re the parent or guardian of, has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), or been told you or the child are a close contact by NHS Test and Trace
- you cannot work from home and will lose income by self-isolating or staying at home to care for the child
Parents can also apply for help if they have to stay off work to look after a child who has been told to self-isolate.
To be eligible the child must:
- be 15 or under, or 25 or under if they have an Education, Health and Care plan (EHC)
- live with you
- normally be at school or in childcare
- have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace
How can I claim?
You can apply for the £500 support payment through your local council's website.
To find out which council area you live in, enter your postcode into the government's local authority checker.
The evidence you need could vary depending on which council you'll applying to.
But it might help to have certain documents to hand to make the application process smoother.
- a payslip if you’re employed, or evidence of your Self Assessment tax returns if you’re self-employed
- a bank statement
- your NHS Test and Trace account ID, or evidence your child has been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace
What other support is available?
Most Covid-specific support, such as furlough, have already ended, meaning there's not as much financial help available as there was earlier in the pandemic.
However there are some schemes that you might be able to apply for if you're worried about your finances while self-isolating.
Statutory sick pay (SSP)
You can get statutory sick pay from your employer if you have to self-isolate.
You'll get £96.35 per week under the scheme, which is not available to those who only have to stay home because they're self-isolating after a holiday abroad.
You must self-isolate for at least 4 days to be eligible for SSP.
SSP is paid by your employer in the same way as your normal wages, for examplein your weekly or monthly pay packet.
The rules have changed since Omicron started spreading across the UK.
Now, anyone who's unwell and needs a sick note to get pay or benefits will not have to show one until 28 days after they fall ill.
Usually you don't need to show a sick note for the first seven days, and then after that you need proof of your illness to get statutory sick pay.
The government announced this week that it will fund sick pay for hospitality workers to take the burden off struggling businesses.
New style employment and support allowance
You can apply for ‘new style’ employment and support allowance (ESA) if you’re under State Pension age and you have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work.
This includes having to self-isolate due to coronavirus.
You also need to have both:
- worked as an employee or have been self-employed
- paid enough National Insurance contributions, usually in the last 2 to 3 years , including credits
You can't claim ESA if you're on certain other benefits, so check the full eligibility criteria to see if you could get the financial help.
Claimants have to provide proof that they've been asked to self-isolate, such as a doctors note or a notification from the NHS Test and Trace app.
You can apply for the benefit online.
Universal Credit is another way you could top up your income while your unable to work.
If you or your partner are under State Pension age and you have £16,000 or less in savings – you might be able to get Universal Credit at the same time as SSP or New Style ESA.
You can apply for Universal Credit online, and it will help to have key information including your passport and bank details to hand.
How much you get will depend on multiple factors including your income, your partner's income and whether you have children.
A couple living together without kids will get a standard allowance of £509.91 a month.
Household Support Fund
The Household Support Fund is a £500million pot of cash spread across different councils in the country.
Local authorities can use the money to help families in their area.
What support is available varies between councils, so you'll need to check with your local council what help is available in the region you live in.
For example, those living in Cambridgeshire could get a £30 supermarket voucher in time for the Christmas holidays.
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