MPs committee find no evidence £22bn test-and-trace scheme cut Covid rates in England

The cross-part public accounts committee has found that there is no evidence to show that the government’s £22bn test-and-trace programme to combat Covid-19 in England contributed to a reduction in coronavirus infection levels. The committee’s report has asked government ministers to justify the “staggering investment of taxpayers’ money” and criticised the use of private consultants who are paid up to £6,624 a day.

The programme is run by Dido Harding, who was appointed by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, last year. At the time, the prime minister, Boris Johnson, said the country would have a “world-beating” system.

Meg Hillier, the chair of the committee, said:

“Despite the unimaginable resources thrown at this project, test and trace cannot point to a measurable difference to the progress of the pandemic, and the promise on which this huge expense was justified – avoiding another lockdown – has been broken, twice,” she said. “British taxpayers cannot be treated by the government like an ATM machine. We need to see a clear plan and costs better controlled.”

Full story in the Guardian, 10 March 2021

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