Test and Trace consultants earning £163k - more than the Prime Minister

Ellen Manning
·2 min read
Shoppers walk past a screen on a bus stop displaying a NHS notice on test and trace on Oxford Street, London, as non-essential shops in England open their doors to customers for the first time since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed in March. Picture date: Monday June 15, 2020.
Figures revealed by the government show that Test and Trace consultants have been paid an average of £163,000. (PA)

Consultants employed to run the government’s Test and Trace programme are earning more than the Prime Minister, it has emerged.

As of November, the government had spent around £375 million on 2,300 consultants employed for the programme, with some earning more than Boris Johnson’s reported salary of £150K in his role as PM.

The information comes amid ongoing concern over the efficacy of the Test and Trace programme, which has come under fire repeatedly since it was set up.

Watch: Calls for Test and Trace boss to go

The expenditure on Test and Trace consultants was revealed by health minister Helen Whately in response to a question from Labour MP Andy Slaughter.

In a written question, Slaughter had asked for details on the highest daily or hourly rate paid for any individual consultant at each firm providing services to the Government's Test and Trace programme, as well as other details on consultants.

In her answer recorded on the government’s website, Whately said that as of the beginning of November 2020 there were over 2,300 consultants and contractors working for 73 different suppliers for the Test and Trace programme, with total expenditure on those consultants to date at around £375 million.

No further details on pay rates of individual consultants were given as it was described as commercially sensitive information.

Tamzen Isacsson, Chief Executive of the Management Consultancies Association (MCA), said that while the average cost per consultancy was around £163K, some of that money would go on operating costs - such as product development, legal costs, overheads, and training - as well as individual salaries.

The number of consultants involved is the equivalent of a mid-sized government department, with 2,260 civil servants reportedly working for the Treasury and 2,290 at the Department for International Trade.

The Test and Trace system has faced ongoing criticism, with financial watchdogs previously finding that its call handlers spent just 1% of their time ‘actively working’.

On Thursday, figures showed that of the 269,886 people transferred to the Test and Trace system in the week to December 30, 84.9% were reached and asked to provide details of recent close contacts.

That was down from 86.4% in the previous week and was the lowest percentage since the week to October 28.

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