Lisa Mackinder, from Washington, says she has been unable to receive a Test and Trace Support Payment despite being told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace during a phone conversation following her mother’s diagnosis.
The Government's Test and Trace Support Payment provides grants for people who have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace and are ‘on a low income, unable to work from home and will lose income as a result.’
The grants are paid out by the local authority.
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Lisa, a delivery driver for Di’s Diner, had hoped the grant would ease some of the financial burden of not being able to work during her period of isolation.
But two weeks on from the call with NHS Test and Trace, Lisa says she has yet to have received a direct call from contact tracers, meaning that she has been unable to obtain an account ID number needed to claim the grant.
The 51-year-old said: "Test and Trace have told me verbally told me to self-isolate but I have had no written confirmation or follow up call to make this official and without that I can’t get any help financially.
“I am annoyed as I am losing money [by] doing what I should do to help others.
"I’m paying the price, all because Test and Trace have not contacted me about myself yet.”
Lisa said that her mother Barbara Browne, 71, was diagnosed with Covid-19 on Monday, October 12, a day after being taken into the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead.
On Thursday, October 15, Lisa took a phone call from NHS Test and Trace on behalf of her mother which aimed to establish who Barbara had been in contact with.
During the call, Lisa – who is in a support bubble with her mother – was told that she needed to self-isolate.
Lisa says she had already began isolating on October 12, after her mother tested positive for coronavirus, and was told during the initial call to expect another call from Test and Trace in two to three days, where she would be able to receive an ID account number so that she could receive a code to claim Test and Trace Support Payment.
But Lisa says she is yet to have received any follow-up contact from NHS Test and Trace despite a number of calls to the mainline service.
Attempting to contact Sunderland City Council directly on October 21, Lisa says she was told that without the account ID from Test and Trace the council could not issue the payment.
She says she was advised by the council that she should keep trying to contact Test and Trace for the ID number.
Now Lisa is due to return to work – having had no symptoms of coronavirus in that time – but says she is £210 out of pocket with no sign of any finanical support on the horizon.The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said that while it does not routinely comment on individual cases, eligible individuals can make a claim up to 14 days after their period of self-isolation for the Test and Trace Support Payment.
It said that money is also being made available to local authorities to make discretionary payments to people who fall outside the scope of the main scheme.
A DHSC spokeswoman said: “NHS Test and Trace is helping to reduce the spread of Covid-19, and over one million people who may otherwise have unknowingly at risk of spreading coronavirus have been contacted and told to isolate.
"Once someone has been contacted by NHS Test and Trace and they have completed contact tracing, they are issued with a unique code to claim the support payment from their local authority.
"Funding has also being made available to local authorities to make discretionary payments to people who fall outside the scope of the main scheme.”
Sunderland City Council confirmed it is administering Test and Trace Support Payments in Sunderland and said 44 support payments had been made in the city since the scheme was implemented, in accordance with the Government’s guidance on Monday, October 12.
A council spokesman said: “In order for an application to be considered a claimant must supply their 8-character NHS Test and Trace Account ID.
"This requirement is specified by the Government for a claimant to be eligible for a support payment. The council has no discretion over this.”