I need financial support
For help and advice on claiming benefits, making a change to your claim and more, please see our benefits help section.
The Citizens Advice website has the latest information and advice relating to:
- going to work
- if you're off sick or told to stay home because of coronavirus
- if you're self-employed
- if you're claiming benefits
- if you can’t pay your rent
- Covid winter grant – food voucher scheme
- coronavirus and claiming benefits on the DWP website
- what to do if you were employed and have lost your job
- guidance for people who are employed and cannot work due to coronavirus
- Test and Trace support payment information
Luton advice can also help with benefits and family mediation. You can contact them on 01582 453372 or [email protected].
Having difficulty paying your Council Tax?
- If you're in financial difficulty and can’t pay your Council Tax, have you applied for Council Tax Reduction?
- If you need to delay payments or make an arrangement to pay let us know via our general enquiry form.
- While the UK has coronavirus restrictions on movement of people we've suspended council tax enforcement visits.
Council tax hardship fund
People of working age who receive council tax reduction (CTR) will receive a maximum of £150 per household (on top of their existing CTR).
Test and Trace support payments
If you've been told by the NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate because you have either tested positive for coronavirus or you've been in contact with someone who has tested positive, you may be entitled to some financial support during your self-isolation period. The notification will come with an eight letter unique identifier, and is not part of the NHS ‘App’ notification scheme.
This payment is designed to support people on low incomes if they cannot work from home and will lose income as a result of self-isolating and to encourage people to get tested for if they have symptoms. This is important to help stop the transmission of Covid-19 and avoid further economic and social restrictions.
The scheme will last until 30 September 2021.
As from 10 December 2020 if you have received notification via the Covid-19 app please open the Covid-19 PDF document at the bottom of this page to see what steps you need to take. Please note without having taken the steps you will not be able to apply for a self-isolation payment.
What is a self-isolate support payment?
If you live in the borough of Luton and received notification from NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate, (not the NHS App notification), you will be entitled to a Test and Trace support payment of £500 if you meet all the following criteria:
- have fully engaged with the NHS Test and Trace tracking scheme and completed the contact tracing on line questionnaire within eight hours of receiving the message to self- isolate or have completed the questions over the phone with the NHS Test and Trace national or local team.
- comply with the NHS Test and Trace notification to self-isolate
- are employed or self-employed
- nature of your work means you are unable to work from home and will lose income as a result
- you or a partner in the household are currently receiving one of the following:
- Universal Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income Support
- Housing Benefit
- Pension Credit
To be eligible an application must be received by us within 42 calendar days from the first day of self -isolation and must include proofs to verify eligibility. Applications received outside this timeframe will be invalid.
Please note: this payment will not reduce any welfare benefit entitlement but is subject to Income Tax.
What do I need to do to comply with the NHS Test and Trace notification to self-isolate?
If you receive a self-isolation payment you must self-isolate as requested by NHS Test and Trace.
Please visit the NHS Test and Trace website for more details of the NHS Test and Trace self-isolation requirements for those:
- testing positive themselves
- been in contact with someone who has tested positive and has now been told to self- isolate by NHS Test and Trace
Who is not eligible to apply for a Test and Trace Support Payment?
You will not be eligible for the scheme if you:
- have not fully engaged with the NHS Test and Trace tracking scheme (Local Authorities will be notified by NHS Test & Trace via the Eligibility checker if a person has engaged. Where there is no engagement a payment will not be made)
- are quarantining after travelling abroad (unless you test positive during the 10-day quarantine period).
- continue to receive full wages while you self-isolate
- nature of job which means you can normally work from home
- have not received a notification from NHS Test and Trace telling you to self-isolate
- are on furlough and not working reduced hours or a second job while furloughed
- were notified to self-isolate before 28 September 2020
- where an application is refused due to not meeting the criteria there is no right of appeal
Local Discretionary Support Payment
A discretionary £500 lump sum payment in exceptional circumstances may be available if you meet the main qualifying criteria for the Test and Trace support payment as detailed above and are:
- a low-income worker who is unable to work because they are self-isolating
- not in receipt of qualifying benefits and will suffer financial hardship as a result of not being able to work and are in receipt of one of the following
- Child tax Credit and Child benefit
- Council Tax Reduction
- are a Luton care leaver aged 18 to 25
- are in employment but have no recourse to public funds
- are waiting to hear about a benefit application made before being told to self-isolate
You'll need to provide proof of the above to support a discretionary application.
We will require further proof of financial hardship for example bank account balances, and savings accounts. When assessing an application we will take into account liability for bill payments for example, mortgage, rent, Council Tax payments. We can assess on financial hardship alone where that is evident from the information provided that real financial hardship exists.
Parents and Guardian Scheme
Parents and guardians who have not been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace but have a child sent home from school has been asked to self-isolate.
From 8 March 2021, parents or guardians who are not legally required to self-isolate can apply for a Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment if they need to take time off work to care for a child or young person.
Applicants must meet all the other means-tested eligibility criteria for a Test and Trace Support Payment or locally determined criteria for a discretionary payment described above.
Applicants must also meet all the criteria below:
- child’s first day of isolation is on or after the 8 March 2021
- applicant is the parent or guardian of a child or young person in the same household and need to take time off work to care for them while they self-isolate, this is limited to one parent or guardian per household for the child or young person’s self-isolation period
- parent is employed or self-employed and their work is such they cannot work from home, and will lose income as a result of caring responsibilities
- the child or young person is aged 15 or under (or 25 or under with an Education, Health and Care Plan) and normally attends an education or childcare setting
- has been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or by their education or childcare setting because they have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19
Applicants will also need to self-declare on the application form and provide proofs where required:
- their child’s name
- their child’s age
- their child’s main address
- the child’s education or care setting and year group, this should include contact details for the setting (at least one of an email address and/or phone number)
- their child’s first day of self-isolation
- whether their child has an Education, Health and Care Plan, this is to support applications from parents and guardians of young people between 16 and 25 who have additional support needs
Please see guidance document for more information.
Where an applicant is eligible for the payment we will email to confirm where an application is declined as the criteria has not been met we will email or call the applicant to advise them of our decision.
Where a discretionary application is refused there is no right of appeal.
Can I help someone else make an application, or make an application on their behalf?
You can help someone else complete the online application, or complete it for them, however, you cannot receive payments on behalf of someone else. Payments will only be made to the person who has been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.
How the support payment will be paid
We intend to make payments within five working days of an application being approved. It can only be made into the account of the person who has been told to self- isolate.
The account must be able to receive BACS payments.
The bank statement you provide must match the details entered on the application form and show:
- name of account holder
- bank sort code
- bank account number
What if my account is overdrawn?
If you know that your account is overdrawn and to avoid any wage or benefit being taken as soon as we have deposited payment into your account, you could exercise your ‘first right of appropriation’.
This is a temporary measure under common law, allowing you to earmark funds for specific essential bills, such as your:
- gas or electricity
You'll need to put this request in writing to your bank or building society and list the bills you wish to pay. For more information on your rights and a template letter, visit the National Debtline's Sample letter webpage.
Please note: we cannot get involved in disputes between account holders and their banks.
Fraud prevention measures
The government is supporting local councils to make the necessary checks to ensure payments can be verified and have been made correctly.
We reserve the right to recover money where the recipient fails to comply with the self-isolation guidance and/or where fraud is detected. We will notify the police as well as seek to recover the money.
We will use your data for the processing of your Test and Trace Support payment application.
To validate your bank account details, we need to share relevant information you've given us with TransUnion. This will be used to ensure your support payment is paid to the correct bank account and to help prevent fraudulent use of support payments.
This is not a credit check and won't impact your credit rating.
Please visit the TransUnion website for more information on how TransUnion may use your data.
In completing the application form, you're providing consent for us to access your:
- coronavirus testing and contract tracing information via Public Health England
- benefits and earnings data via the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), HMRC or your employer
We may check the information you provide, or the information about you which somebody else provides, with other details we hold.
Where permitted by law, we may also receive information from other people or organisations or give information to them to check the accuracy of records, to prevent or detect crime, or to protect public funds in other ways.
All information is processed in accordance with our data protection policy.
We never sell your data to third parties or use it for marketing purposes without your consent.
Before you start
You'll need the following information to complete this form:
- copy of a recent bank statement from the account you have requested payment is made into
- copy of the NHS Test and Trace notification you received - this can be a photo of the letter or email, but it must clearly show the date you received the notification and your eight digit NHS Test and Trace reference, or if a parent/guardian, a letter from the school or other care setting asking the child to self -isolate
- recent wage slip or your latest bank statement (issued in the last two months) showing your earnings being paid in - photos of these documents are acceptable)
- proof of self-employment such as:
- recent business bank statement (issued in the last two months)
- most recent set of accounts
- evidence of self-assessment returns to HMRC or DWP
- your National Insurance number
For parent/guardian claims additional information is required:
- the child’s eight-digit NHS Test and Trace ID number, this is for parents and guardians of children or young people who have received a notification directly from NHS Test and Trace telling them to self-isolate.
- a communication from the child or young person’s education or childcare setting confirming that they have to self-isolate, this is for parents and guardians of children or young people who have been told to self-isolate by their education or childcare setting because they have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive
- a screenshot of a young person’s NHS Covid-19 app notification telling them to self-isolate and evidence that the young person has an Education, Health and Care plan, this is for parents or guardians of young people aged 16 to 25 who have additional support needs and who have been notified to self-isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app
Local authorities cannot accept applications from parents/guardian without at least one of the three pieces of supporting evidence listed above.
Please read the guide and procedures PDF document below, as it contains important information about the scheme that can affect your application.
How to apply
Please ensure you use the correct application form.
Use the application below if you have received an eight digit reference from NHS Track and Trace to say either you are positive or been a close contact.
Use the application below below if you’re a parent/guardian and your child has been told to self-isolate because they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive but has not tested positive themselves.