The Prime Minister has defended NHS Test and Trace, which could end up costing the taxpayer £37 billion, after MPs said there was “no clear evidence” it cut coronavirus infections. Then only hours later released a video on how well the Government has performed during the pandemic.

During Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson backed the programme, telling MPs: “It’s thanks to NHS Test and Trace that we’re able to send kids back to school and begin cautiously and irreversibly to reopen our economy and restart our lives.”

It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he believed the team behind Test and Trace had done “an amazing job”.

Mr Hancock told the BBC: “The team have built this testing capacity from nothing a year ago and so they’ve done an amazing job and I’m incredibly grateful to them.”

Budget

Last week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget included an additional £15 billion for Test and Trace, taking the total bill to more than £37 billion over two years.

But a report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has called  on the Government to justify the “staggering investment” of taxpayers’ money.

It also urged the scheme, led by Tory peer Dido Harding, to “wean itself off” reliance on thousands of “expensive” consultants and temporary staff, with some receiving £6,624 per day.

The PAC said the programme does publish a significant amount of weekly data, including some that shows full compliance with the self-isolation rules relied upon by the scheme can be low.

But it criticised the data for failing to show the speed of the process from “cough to contact” and therefore not allowing the public to judge the “overall effectiveness of the programme”.

MPs also criticised the scheme for struggling to consistently match supply and demand for the service, and therefore “resulting in either sub-standard performance or surplus capacity”.

And they said it remained “overly reliant” on contractors and temporary staff after having to initially act quickly to scale up the service rapidly.

The UK Vaccine Story. Coming soon.

The Government released a trailer for A Beacon of Hope: The UK Vaccine Story.

Downing Street Tweeted: “Extraordinary. Unexpected. Fantastic.” A Beacon of Hope: The UK Vaccine Story. Coming soon.

Dr Rachel Clarke was incensed she Tweeted: “Just what kind of tin-eared, Soviet-style, self-promoting, shameless, insensitive, triumphalist, self-aggrandising attempt to rewrite history is this? Over 130k dead. Over 130k bereaved families. This attempt to scream “triumph” is revolting.”

Related: PMQs – Meghan was an actor but PM is bringing ‘Boris Billions’ movie to life

Since you are here

Since you are here, we wanted to ask for your help.

Journalism in Britain is under threat. The government is becoming increasingly authoritarian and our media is run by a handful of billionaires, most of whom reside overseas and all of them have strong political allegiances and financial motivations.

Our mission is to hold the powerful to account. It is vital that free media is allowed to exist to expose hypocrisy, corruption, wrongdoing and abuse of power. But we can’t do it without you.

If you can afford to contribute a small donation to the site it will help us to continue our work in the best interests of the public. We only ask you to donate what you can afford, with an option to cancel your subscription at any point.

To donate or subscribe to The London Economic, click here.

The TLE shop is also now open, with all profits going to supporting our work.

The shop can be found here.

You can also SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER .