£300m for local government test and trace service

Local authorities will be central to supporting the new test and trace service in England, with the government providing a new funding package of £300 million.

Each local authority will be given funding to develop tailored outbreak control plans, working with local NHS and other stakeholders, with work on the plans expected to start immediately. Plans will focus on identifying and containing potential outbreaks in places such as workplaces, housing complexes, care homes and schools.

Data on the virus’s spread will be shared with local authorities through the Joint Biosecurity Centre to inform local outbreak planning, so teams understand how the virus is moving, working with national government where necessary to access the testing and tracing capabilities of the new service.

A new National Local Government Advisory Board will be established to work with the test and trace service.

Nadine Dorries, Minister for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health, said: “Local authorities will be vital in the effort to contain Covid-19 at a community level. The pandemic requires a national effort but that will only be effective as a result of local authorities, working hand in hand with Public Health England and contact tracers to focus on the containment of local outbreaks, in order to control the transmission and the spread of the virus. For contact tracing to be effective when it is rolled out, we will need people to continue to follow guidelines and stay at home if they have symptoms.”

Tom Riordan, National Test and Trace Adviser and chief executive of Leeds City Council, added: “It is essential that communities and local authorities are at the heart of our plans to roll out test and trace. Their work to respond to the virus has been exemplary, demonstrating how people across the country have come together to respond to the virus. As we move forward with our plans to trace every case of the virus, and contact those at risk, we will need to continue to work together and tailor support at a local level. This joint endeavour between local government, the NHS and local partners will help those in self-isolation, and reduce the risk of widespread outbreaks in our schools, businesses, hospitals and communities.”