A Dunstable mum has said she is having to chose between paying her bills and eating after being caught out over the changes in Government test and trace support payments.
The scheme changed again this week, but the single mum was caught out by the previous changes last month, when she had to stay at home after her 11-year-old tested positive for Covid. Using the lateral flow tests, she registered the details with the NHS test and trace scheme but did not take her daughter for a PCR test after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was no longer any need,
But when she came to claim for lost earnings under the support payment scheme she was told by Central Bedfordshire Council, who manage the nationwide scheme locally, that she was not eligible because she had not done a PCR test. She says the council also told her that several other claimants had been hit by the conflicting advice.
The mobile cleaner says losing a week's wages while she cared for her daughter will hit them hard.
"I'm going to struggle for the next month," she said. "Do I pay my bills and not eat, or eat and not pay my bills."
"As the rules changed in January, I did not take her for a PCR test. We was however, contacted by test and trace, given an ITS number and told to isolate immediately.
"When speaking to track and trace they advised my daughter did not need a PCR test as I have an ITS number for the application and my daughter needed to isolate straight away. My daughter's school and after school child care setting stated she would not be allowed to attend school during the time she was still testing positive.
"As a result of my daughter having to isolate, I had to take a week off work and I do not get any sick pay. In turn, I lost a whole week's wage, that I thought the support scheme would help me out with. I am a single parent, who works full time and as the sole carer of my daughter, I had no choice but to take time off work.
"My local council contacted me 7 days after I submitted my application, which by that time my daughter was testing negative. Had they contacted me sooner, I would have taken her for a PCR test.
"I have done lots of research, looked on every website possible, and it does not state that as a parent taking time off to care for a child, under 15 years, that the child needs a positive PCR test to apply for such payment. It does however mention, that if you test positive ie myself, then I would need a positive PCR test to apply for it.
"I have been in touch with my local MP and council, to try and get some support on this matter. They have told me their hands are tied because they are following the guidance from the DHSC. I have also contacted the DHSC (department for health and social care), Sajid Javid and the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but have not received a response. The government have not made it clear on their website that if a child tests positive for Covid, they will need a PCR test for parents/guardians to apply for a test and trace support payment."
She had Covid in 2020 and received the support payment while she self isolated.
She says she followed the rules during the pandemic but this has changed her mind. "Going forward I will not be following the government guidelines, as I have previously throughout this pandemic," she said. "Neither my daughter or myself will be taking any Covid tests in the future as if we test positive, we will not get the help we should be entitled to."
A spokesman for central Bedfordshire Council said: "I regret we cannot comment on individual cases. We do not generally collect information about how many applicants may have raised a particular issue but the number raising the same point so far is very low."