My Written Question asking the Minister for Vaccines and Public Health about the monthly cost of Test and Trace

The Department of Health and Social Care has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (56360):

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the costs are of NHS Test and Trace each month. (56360)

Tabled on: 15 October 2021

Maggie Throup (Minister for Vaccines and Public Health):

The costs for NHS Test and Trace vary each month according to the prevalence of COVID-19. The budget for NHS Test and Trace activities in 2021/22 is £15 billion. On average this equates to approximately £1.25 billion per month.


  1. alan jutson
    December 13, 2021

    Well at least you got an answer this time !
    Not the correct answer, because that is what has been budgeted for, not spent, so it could higher or lower.

    1. Oldtimer
      December 13, 2021

      This response demonstrates that the true answer is they don’t know. NHS spending is out of control.

  2. Peter from Leeds
    December 13, 2021

    Sir John,

    It seems they answered a different question to the one you asked. Budgeted amount is not the same as cost. But you know that.

  3. miami.mode
    December 13, 2021

    No mention of whether the budget is being adhered to which would suggest they have no idea and fails to answer the question. Surely they have enough pen-pushers to provide accurate costs on a monthly basis which any commercial company would find essential.

  4. Ian Wragg
    December 13, 2021

    Complete waste of money. Just to justify extended 9ckdowns. Follow the money and see who’s trousering it.

  5. Peter
    December 13, 2021

    People made fortunes out of this test and trace racket.

    A softball question about the ‘monthly cost’ lets the Minister of the hook.

    They really need to justify this wasted money. What did the public get back for all these billions?

    Answer : Not much.

  6. XY
    December 13, 2021

    Slippery answer – you asked about the COST and she answered with the budgeted amount.

  7. Micky Taking
    December 13, 2021

    Thank you Sir John for passing on this information we would not have got otherwise.
    The next question needs to be what was actually spent on NHS Test and Trace activities in 2020/21?
    and what budget is agreed for NHS Test and Trace activities in 2022/23?

  8. acorn
    December 13, 2021

    Excellent Civil Service reply to your question; very economical with the truth. It is the job of her Department Civil Servants, to defend their elected amateur politician, thrust into a ministerial position; like Maggie Throup, in the same way that the Praetorian Guard protected the Roman Emperor.

  9. Donna
    December 13, 2021

    What a ridiculous waste of money.
    But hey…. it’s being billed to current and future generations of taxpayers (plus interest) so this CONsocialist Government doesn’t give a 4X.

    1. NotA#
      December 13, 2021

      @Donna +1.

      The point appears to be create money for unaccountable pals and a media headline, while increasing control on people’s personal liberties

  10. Everhopeful
    December 13, 2021

    ££££££ BILLIONS.
    How do they know the prevalence BEFORE they test? Or even after come to that?
    Stop testing = no covid, no omicron! Fewer wasted billions.

  11. Iain Gill
    December 13, 2021

    So Boris does not have a majority now, and is in Coalition with the Stalinist Labour party. Doesn’t bode well for the country.

    1. No Longer Anonymous
      December 13, 2021

      Has been for nearly two years now.

    2. Micky Taking
      December 14, 2021

      At times you’d barely recognise the Government side of the HoC being Conservative.

  12. hefner
    December 13, 2021

    An additional question worth asking would have been what fraction of the ‘NHS’ Test and Trace is actually outsourced to consultants and contractors. In the first phase (March-August 2020, Serco (and 29 subcontractors) got £108 m and the Sitel call centre £84 m for their efforts.
    In March 2021, the Public Accounts Committee criticised the use of 2,500 consultants at a cost of £1,100 pp/day coming from Serco, Mitie, G4S, Sodexo and Deloitte.

    So I would think Sir John’s question was rather ‘toothless’. Written Questions to Ministers are certainly essential, but might require just a teeny weeny bit of research before asking them.
    A blunt question likely to be answered in a vapid way … is rather useless.

    1. Peter2
      December 13, 2021

      Another useful question would be to ask:-
      In this unique emergency situation at that time how many lives may have been saved by the quick development of test and trace by using extra help from outside consultancy help.

      1. hefner
        December 14, 2021

        Indeed, you’re right. But look at the time line. There was T&T at the beginning of March 2020, stopped mid-March 2020, restarted at the end of May 2020, then shown to be only partly working during the summer and the rest of the period till April 2021 with multiple problems linked to the UK Covid-19 app that was then abandoned and superseded in June 2020 by the Google-Apple ‘NHS’ app.

        Responsibility for T&T moved from Public Health England (DHSC) to Baroness Harding’s National Institute for Health Protection then to UK Health Security Agency.

        Cancelled in November 2021 after £37bn (almost one fifth of the NHS budget with at times only 11% of the ‘contract tracers’ actually working) spent most of it outside the NHS.

        I’ll let you decide how many lives have been saved by the different changes in technical aspects and in overall responsibility for the T&T program. If you have an estimate for that number, I would be grateful if you could share it with us.

        1. Peter2
          December 14, 2021

          Perhaps it is the difference between the numbers of deaths SAGE predicted and the actual number of deaths.

  13. forthurst
    December 13, 2021

    “Minister for Vaccines and Public Health” – Is that oxymoron intended?

  14. Richard II
    December 13, 2021

    Sir John, your minister says: ‘The costs for NHS Test and Trace vary each month according to the prevalence of COVID-19.’ I wonder how far that’s true. In your constituency, the Covid web site shows cases’ so-called declining to their lowest point this year between late March and late May. But it also shows that Covid tests continued to be adminstered at a high level, around 800-900,000 a week, well above the figure for January and February when Covid incidence had been much higher. In Wokingham, at least, it seems testing did not ‘vary according to the prevalence of COVID-19’. Is the constituency exceptional in some relevant way?

  15. Iain Gill
    December 13, 2021

    if the government tries to force children to be vaccinated there is going to be massive trouble. they are under next to no risk, and diverting resources away from cancer & cardio vascular patients is evil.

    1. BOF
      December 14, 2021

      I G.
      Also evil to subject children to these vaccines that have never completed trials and the long term effect on children (or adults for that matter!) is unknown. Also, healthy children suffer no serious illness from Covid.

  16. X-Tory
    December 13, 2021

    This is an appallingly contemptuous reply.
    1. The reply fails to differentiate between the budget and the actual cost (you asked for the latter, but the government ignored you and quoted the former).
    2. If the amount varies, then simply dividing £15 billion by 12 tells us nothing, and seems to assume you are too stupid to do this simple primary-school calculation.
    3. Whether the amount varies each month or not, the government should be able to tell you the ACTUAL cost for months which are now concluded. Their failure to do so suggests that either they are too incompetent to know or too arrogant to bother telling you.
    4. Even if there is some variation in costs depending on the number of cases, there must also be a large fixed cost element (premises, staff contracts, etc). The government should have given you this information.
    5. If the actual cost varies and cannot be predicted, then on what basis was £15 billion allocated to this function? What number of cases does this budget cater for?

    You are an elected member of parliament with a constitutional right to ask and expect answers to your questions. The government are behaving intolerably by being so dismissive of your very reasonable questions which are simply designed to ensure that the government is serving your constituents effectively.

  17. Brian Tomkinson
    December 13, 2021

    What a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money!

  18. DOM
    December 13, 2021

    What’s the end game of the Covid agenda?

    Tory MPs can save the UK from Marxist barbarism.

    1. No Longer Anonymous
      December 13, 2021

      I see no way out of this. Never.

      Masks and lockdowns forever more.

      One death *with* covid and society is shut down.


      I was at a funeral today of a beloved uncle (two missed consultations during lockdown – undiagnosed and curable cancer.)

      The earnest wearing of masks during the crematorium service. Masks off and hugs (everyone who was at the crem including the vicar) for the wake.

      Masks off for singing, trumpet and clarinet playing in the service. I suppose it did slow the spread… for 20 minutes !


      Utter loonacy.

      And 7 parties in number 10 by the people who set the rules by which ordinary people were fined and threatened with prison for doing the same.

      A) Politicians and at least one leading scientist knows the virus is no threat to them and the vast majority of others

      B) The rules only apply to the plebs.

  19. ukretired123
    December 13, 2021

    Burning mega-bucks by the truckload.
    Appalling throwing taxpayers money without accountability and responsibility. Heads should roll in the Public Sector and in the Private Sector for sheer incompetence….

    1. NotA#
      December 13, 2021

      @ukretired123 – those in receipt of taxpayer money are protected from scrutiny when you have a tax and spend Socialist Government

  20. Roy Grainger
    December 13, 2021

    We test more than the entire EU combined. Seems odd.

  21. NotA#
    December 13, 2021

    Sir John, wishing you and the few Conservatives left, well in tomorrow’s vote.

    People with integrity and backbone are in short supply in UK politics generally nowadays.

  22. Chris S
    December 14, 2021

    This is such a large amount each month that a breakdown is essential. How much, for example, is going on consultancy fees and what daily rate is being paid ?

    How many call handlers are being employed at what rate and how busy are they ?

  23. Narrow Shoulders
    December 14, 2021

    Test – I understand.

    Do we still need trace? Is it serving a purpose other than to assuage all the worthies who extolled Taiwan in April last year?

  24. Bryan Harris
    December 14, 2021

    The budget for NHS Test and Trace activities in 2021/22 is £15 billion. On average this equates to approximately £1.25 billion per month. WHAT A RIDICULOUS AMOUNT OF MONEY TO WASTE ON SUCH A USELESS PROJECT!

    Never mind the waste – we are now used to this government splashing our hard earned taxes in every direction for very little return – the question should be; How is this huge amount justified, and what, if any, calculatable, or any other, benefit has resulted?

  25. Remington Norman
    December 14, 2021

    Sir John, In case you have not realised what many of us (former Tories) have understood for some time, this government is shambolic and incompetent – wasteful, devoid of sound forward planning and deceitful. It is not up to the job. We see egregious waste – HS2, Track and trace, public procurement in defence and the NHS in particular – costly and futile policies (notably net zero and other climate change idiocies), failure to confront woke and PC ideologies which threaten our cultural heritage, failure to reform the left-indoctrinated and overmanned civil-service, failure to protect our borders, needless concessions to the EU….on and on this ineptitude goes.

    Even if Boris Johnson resigns (or is kicked out) – which is to be hoped – it is difficult to see who else might be capable of sound, intelligent government based on Tory principles. This is a bleak prospect, indeed.

    1. Nottingham Lad Himself
      December 14, 2021

      “Tory” “principles”.


  26. gyges
    December 14, 2021

    More questions for you John,

    (i) if you use the laminar flow test, what is the probability of having covid, if the test returns a positive result?
    (ii) if you use the PCR test, what is the probability that you have covid, if the test returns a positive result?

    (iii) Of all the laboratories doing PCR testing … what has been the number of PCR cycles they have used throughout? If this has varied, why? If this has varied, can they tell us the variation over the period of the pandemic?

    1. hefner
      December 14, 2021

      gyges, you might want to try ‘NHS Test and Trace: how we test your samples’, 8 December 2021. Check ‘Lighthouse’ and ‘Partner’ laboratories and the additional links at the bottom of the page. Good luck!

      1. gyges
        December 14, 2021

        @hefner … I tried the NHS Test and Trace link but it didn’t go into sufficient details. But thank you for the steer. There are government publications available but they don’t seem to have all the required data; for example, my question (iii) with regard to the PCR thermal cycles., there are documents such as “Understanding cycle threshold (Ct) in SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR” but this doesn’t answer my question. I have anecdotal evidence that the number of thermal cycles is 45; it would be good to see if that were true, why that was chosen, who chose it, and using this value, what is the probability of having covid given that you test positive for covid, under these circumstances. I don’t want to start swearing and get kicked off John R’s blog but we’re two years into it and these very, very basic, and fundamental questions have not been definitively answered. I think we should all be extremely angry about this paucity of information.

  27. Mark
    December 14, 2021

    If we believe the latest propaganda, test and trace has failed to find 200,000 omicron cases, having found a total of just over 4,700 so far. Failure on a spectacular scale. But if this claim were true, and we allow for a 2.5 day case doubling time that is also suggested, that would imply there were already 12,500 cases 10 days ago. That interval is more than enough for serious cases to be hospitalised, so as we only saw 10 cases so far that suggests a hospitalisation rate of under 0.1%. That would imply that omicron is extremely mild, and as leading South African medics tell us, no cause for panic.

    Their experience is that patient stays are much shorter than with other variants (typically 2-3 and exceptionally 4 days, depending on age), and involve far less severity of illness, with oxygen and IC U care being a relative rarity. More reasons why the pressure on the NHS seems to have been overestimated.

    1. Mark
      December 14, 2021

      Footnote: the putative cumulative number of cases missed by test and trace is of course much larger than the 200,000 new cases alleged, since it will have been missing lots of cases from earlier days as well. The total would be well over 500,000 on the 2.5 day doubling time assumption. However, more recent cases would be too new to require hospitalisation.

  28. hefner
    December 14, 2021

    Sorry, one more: check also ‘Cycle threshold (Ct) in SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR’ again on

    1. gyges
      December 14, 2021

      @hefner see reply in earlier thread.

  29. X-Tory
    December 14, 2021

    £15 billion is such a huge sum of money, and yet it is being spent without any challenge as if it were peanuts. Neither the government, nor MPs, nor even the media, seem to be bothered any more about public spending. If so much money can be found, at the drop of a hat, for this programme, then why not for defence, for instance? I will never again accept that the government ‘can’t afford’ something.

    And what has this colossal expenditure achieved? I would ask you to please ask how many lives this spending has saved and what PROOF the government has for whatever figure they come up with – and how this can be squared with the normal NICE limit of £30,000 per QALY.

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