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Coronavirus – getting benefits if you’re self-isolating

This advice applies to England

There are benefits and grants you can claim if you or your child have to self-isolate. What you should claim depends on whether you have to stop working to self-isolate.

If you’re not sure, you should check if you have to self-isolate.

If you have to stop working to self-isolate, you might be able to get:

  • a self-isolation payment from your local council

If you weren’t working, you might be able to get ESA. 

You can get a self-isolation payment at the same time as SSP or ESA.

You can also find out what to do if you need to be off work to care for someone.

If you're returning to the UK from abroad

You might need to self-isolate – this is also called 'quarantine'.

You can’t get SSP or a self-isolation payment for being in quarantine. You might be able to get them for other reasons – for example if you have tested positive for coronavirus.

If you're employed, talk to your employer about what you can do while you're in quarantine – ask them if you can:

  • work from home
  • take annual or unpaid leave – you might be able to get ESA if you have to take unpaid leave

Check if you can get a self-isolation payment

You might be able to get a single payment of £500 from your local council if you’re employed or self-employed and you’ve lost income because you can’t work from home.

To get the payment you must be self-isolating at home for one of these reasons:

  • you tested positive for coronavirus
  • the NHS told you to self-isolate - this includes getting a message or ‘ping’ from the NHS COVID-19 app
  • you need to care for your child who's under 16 and was told to self-isolate by their school
  • you need to care for your child who's on an Education, Health and Care Plan, is under 26 and was told to self-isolate by their school 

You can't get the payment just because you have to quarantine when you enter the UK from abroad. 

To get the payment you’ll have to show you have no income or a low income.

You should automatically get the payment if you get at least one of these benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credits
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit

If you’re not getting any of the benefits, you could still get the payment if you’re struggling with your living costs. Your local council will decide based on your income and savings.

You must apply for the payment within 42 days of when you started self-isolating.

You can find out more and apply on your local council’s website – find your council’s website on GOV.UK.

If your local council refuses to give you a self-isolation payment

You can't appeal the decision, but you can ask your local council to look at their decision again. It’s worth showing them extra evidence that you need the money. For example you might show them evidence of bills you have to pay soon.

Check if you can get SSP

If you stop working and lose money because you’re self-isolating you might be able to get SSP from your employer.

You could get SSP if:

  • you have coronavirus or symptoms of coronavirus

  • someone you live with has coronavirus or symptoms of coronavirus

  • you’re told by the NHS you've been in contact with someone with coronavirus

  • you’ve been told to self-isolate before you go into hospital for surgery

You can read the government guidance about self-isolating on GOV.UK.

You can check if you can get SSP.

If you can't get sick pay

You might be able to claim ESA from the government. 

You can get a self-isolation payment at the same time as ESA.

If you’re a care worker in Wales, you might be able to get your normal pay while you’re self-isolating.

Check if you can get ESA

You might be able to claim ESA if you’re self-isolating because of coronavirus. For example, you might be self-isolating because you:

  • or someone you live with have coronavirus or symptoms of coronavirus – or you’re still recovering

  • came into contact with someone who might have coronavirus 

  • have been told to quarantine after returning from abroad – check if you have to quarantine on GOV.UK

  • will have surgery in the next 14 days

You can also get ESA if your child is self-isolating for one of these reasons. 

 If you can get ESA, you’ll be paid from the first day you were sick or self-isolating. 

You can check if you can get ESA

You might also be able to get Universal Credit if you’re on a low income or not working. Check if you can get Universal Credit

If you’re already claiming benefits and start claiming Universal Credit, you won't be able to go back to the benefit you were on before. Talk to an adviser before applying for Universal Credit.

If you’re a care worker in Wales 

You can apply to get your full pay while you can’t work because you’re self-isolating. This is called the ‘statutory sick pay enhancement scheme’.

You can’t apply to get your full pay if you’re also applying for a self-isolation payment from your local council. You have to decide which one to apply to for each time you self-isolate.

Talk to your employer to find out how to apply to the statutory sick pay enhancement scheme. You can find out more about the statutory sick pay enhancement scheme on the Welsh government website.

If you're struggling to pay your bills

If you're struggling to pay for food, find out how to get help from a food bank. If you have children, check if they can get free school meals.

You can check what other help you can get if you can't pay your bills. This includes things like your mortgage, energy bills, council tax or court fines.

You might also be able to get other benefits - for example, if you’re a carer or have a long-term health condition. If you’re not sure which benefits to apply for, you can talk to an adviser.

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