A man was refused a self-isolation payment after Oldham Council accused him of not engaging with Test and Trace.
James Keenan was told to isolate through the NHS Covid-19 App. He took a PCR test, tested positive, and submitted his result. However, he never received a call from Test and Trace.
As he works in a manufacturing factory, he wasn’t able to work from home – so applied for a Self Isolation Discretionary Payment through Oldham Council.
This was to make up for only receiving statutory sick-pay during his 10 days of isolation.
He was shocked when his application was rejected.
“I was actually really annoyed,” James said.
On July 19 he received an email from the Oldham Covid-19 Support Team.
It said: “I am sorry but you do not qualify for the Self-Isolation Payment because you have failed to engage with NHS TRACK & TRACE.”
“I had done everything they asked and was now being told I did not engage with the Track and Trace. I did everything right and they denied me the £500 payment to help me whilst I was out of work.,” he said.
Oldham Council has since said that it has found ‘missing information’ and that a payment will be made shortly.
James said that he was left being unable to pay his bills in pull as a result of having to isolate and not receiving a payment from the council.
He’s used to doing overtime to bump up his salary.
“I shouldn’t have to rely on it but I do,” he said.
“We did feel it. We have to pay the same bills as everybody else.”
James said that four of his work colleagues tested positive and had to self-isolate – and that they had no problem receiving a payment from the council.
An Oldham Council spokesperson said: “We have been looking into the grievance surrounding the resident’s Self Isolation Discretionary Payment.
“Originally when the team processed the application in question, the information they saw on the eligibility system stated that a ‘follow up failed not reached’ indicating that the resident hadn’t complied with what was required to grant the payment.
“Upon delving into this case further, the team subsequently found missing information from both the national system and from the resident, which they have requested and received meaning that the payment will be made shortly.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Local authorities are responsible for administering the application process in their area, and we continue to work closely with all 314 local authorities in England to ensure as many people as possible get the support that is available to them
“Since it launched in September 2020, the Government has made £235 million available to local authorities to run the scheme. In March this year, we increased funding for discretionary payments and made an additional £20 million a month available to help even more people.
“The NHS COVID-19 app is doing exactly what it was designed to do – informing close contacts of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 that they are at risk and advising them to isolate to protect themselves and others.”
However, James’s wife, Heather, who has the app downloaded, was never told to isolate.
“I didn’t get notified and I live with him,“ she said.
She said she doesn’t understand what more they were supposed to do – as Test and Trace call and text people who are isolating – not the other way around.
“Not one person has spoken to us,“ she said.
The Department of Health and Social Care has been asked why James didn’t receive any calls during self-isolation and why Heather wasn’t notified about being in contact with him.
The Manchester Evening News is awaiting a response.