Government to spend £10bn on botched test-and-trace system
Calls for public inquiry mounting as Treasury also reveals £15bn bill for PPE
Taxpayers have had to stump up £10bn for a test-and-trace system that is still not fully operational, it has emerged.
“Campaigners blasted officials for an enormous waste of taxpayers money” after PPE, coronavirus testing and contact tracing programmes were shown to have “accounted for almost four-fifths of extra health spending”, the paper reports.
Labour MP Meg Hillier, chair of Parliament’s public accounts committee, said Whitehall officials have “questions to answer” about the track-and-trace programmes, which “won’t be supporting the unlocking of the economy for some time to come”.
Matthew Lesh, head of research at the Adam Smith Institute, added that the amount spent on the programmes was “astonishing”.
The government has been “ploughing huge sums of money into the track and trace system” despite it “still failing to catch coronavirus cases”, The Sun reports.
Only 75% of people who tested positive for the virus and were passed on to the NHS system “were reached by tracers and asked to share information of their contacts”, the paper says. And of the contacts who were contacted and told they may be infected with coronavirus, only 73% could be reached and asked to self-isolate.
The NHS app intended to support the system was later ditched after it failed to detect most contacts. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government would work with tech giants Apple and Google to launch a functional app.
Pressure is growing on the government to launch a public inquiry into spending on the coronavirus response.
Hillier has “warned the government would have to justify the huge price of PPE amid intense scrutiny over its procurement strategy”, The Telegraph says.