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Covid: Call to expand £500 grant for Covid self-isolaters
Covid: Call to expand £500 grant for Covid self-isolaters

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The government has been urged to expand eligibility for self-isolation support grants in England.

Currently, people asked to stay at home by the NHS Covid app do not qualify for the £500 grant given to people
on low incomes who are told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.

Parents who have to stay at home to look after children who are self-isolating are also excluded.

Citizens Advice said it means people face an "impossible choice".

People face having to take a "big hit" to their income and may end up struggling with bills in order to help stop
the spread of the virus, the charity said.

The government said it was exploring how to expand the system to cover those advised to isolate by the app.

The support scheme is designed to help people who cannot work from home and lose income because they are

If you test positive, you are provided with a code, which you can use to apply for the grant.

But a number of loopholes have emerged - which charities say need to be addressed.

As well as parents looking after isolating children and those pinged by the app, people who are not on benefits 
are not automatically eligible. They have to apply for discretionary funding instead.

Charities have said that could mean people who are in the process of applying for benefits like Universal Credit - 
but who have not yet completed the process - do not qualify.

"Ultimately people are facing an impossible choice often," said Citizens Advice spokesperson Katie Martin.

"They are taking a big hit on their incomes if they can't work from home and they need to self-isolate,
but they still have their bills to pay, their food shopping to do, children to care for."

Ms Martin said the support on offer was welcome, but added: "It's definitely something that we'd like
the government to look again at - to see what else they can do to make sure people can do the right thing."

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