Self-isolation payment scheme opens in Wales giving people on low incomes £500 if they are told to stay at home

WS151120 Low Incomes Isolation
The £500 self-isolation payment is designed to help encourage people to stick to the guidelines and remove any financial barriers Credit: Welsh Government

People living on low incomes in Wales will now be able to apply for a payment of £500 if they are told to self-isolate due to coronavirus.

The Welsh government announced on Monday evening that the scheme had opened and was designed to help encourage people to adhere to the guidance and remove any financial barriers to self-isolating.

The scheme is open to anyone receiving Universal Credit and other specified benefits, who has to self-isolate because they either have coronavirus or have been told to by NHS Wales Test Trace Protect.

There will also be a discretionary element for those who do not meet the criteria but who face financial hardship as a result of self-isolating.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said the payments would help everyone "to play their part" in curbing the spread of coronavirus.

Mr Drakeford said: "The self-isolation scheme will help anyone who faces the choice of staying at home and not being able being able to feed their family or going to work and potentially spreading coronavirus.

"This is a difficult decision which no one should have to make.

"If we are going to keep coronavirus under control in Wales – we all need to work together.

"This means staying at home and self-isolating if we have symptoms of coronavirus or if we are advised to because we have been in contact with someone who has the virus.

"Our first line of defence against the virus is each one of us.

"This payment will help everyone to play their part in the national effort we need to respond to this pandemic.”

To be eligible for the self-isolation payment scheme:

  • You must have tested positive for covid-19 or have been contacted by the NHS Wales Test, Trace Protect service and formally told to self-isolate on or after 23 October 2020

  • Be working (employed or self-employed)

  • Not be able to work from home and will lose earnings because you must self-isolate

  • Be getting one of the following benefits: Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, Income-based Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit or Pension Credit

Local authorities will be responsible for the delivery of the self-isolation payments.

Councillor Anthony Hunt from the Welsh Local Government Association, said he believed councils were the best placed to administer such schemes.

He said: "Councils in Wales have been at the forefront in supporting residents and businesses through this pandemic. 

"Setting up these schemes in short order has been challenging so it is important we worked with Welsh Government on the delivery.

"We are pleased that local authorities will be given discretionary funding to allow them to support people who fall outside the main scheme.

"Local authorities have been instrumental in responding to the pandemic and are best placed to understand the challenges faced by our local communities."

A new top-up payment has also been introduced for people working in social care, which will raise statutory sick pay to the level of their normal wages if they are forced to take time off work due to coronavirus.

The two schemes are being funded by £32m from the Welsh government.