£500 self-isolation payments to be widened to more low-income workers in Harrogate
Self-isolation payments of £500 are to be made available to more low-income earners in the Harrogate district.
The one-off payments were introduced by the government and administered by Harrogate Borough Council from September to compensate for any loss of earnings workers may suffer as a result of having to self-isolate because of Covid.
More than £119,000 has been allocated to the council but as of this month around £68,000 remains unspent so officials have proposed to widen the rules around who can apply.
Those currently eligible must be on benefits such as Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowances, however, people who do not receive these and are still in need of help can get discretionary payments.
The proposal to widen the rules will mean a limit on those who can apply for discretionary payments based on their earnings is increased from £280 to £450 weekly.
Julie Gillett, revenues, welfare and customer services manager at Harrogate Borough Council, said in a report this will mean the scheme is"available to more customers, providing more financial support within the Harrogate district."
She said: "The council, together with the government, recognises that self-isolation is an important tool for controlling the transmission of the Covid-19 virus.
"The self-isolation support payment schemes ensure that individuals with low incomes facing financial hardship as a result of not being able to work will be supported through this scheme."
In December, there were warnings that thousands of people in England were being excluded from the scheme as councils reported running out of cash and loopholes leaving families ineligible.
Harrogate Borough Council said at the time that this was not an issue in the district, although it had rejected almost as many applicants as it had accepted as many who applied did not have a valid Test and Trace reference number or were not on one of the required benefits.
Currently, the scheme is due to end nationally on 30 June, however, and while it has not been formally announced, it is expected that there will be an extension as the legal requirement to self-isolate will remain in place.
How to apply
Harrogate Borough Council has set up a dedicated claims page on its website with information on eligibility and how to apply.
It said applicants will have to provide evidence of the notification from NHS test and trace, such as a text message, when making an application, as well as a bank statement to show your income has fallen.
Employed people will be asked to show proof of employment, for example your contract or payslip, while the self-employed will need to show evidence of their trading income and that their business cannot be carried out without social contact.
Applications will need to be made within two weeks of your quarantine period ending.
Workers who have to self-isolate after travelling abroad and those who can work from home while they isolate won't be able to claim.
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter