Spending on Covid tests to reach £45.1m

MORE than £27 million was spent on the Island’s Covid testing programme up to April – while a further £15m is to be found to cover the rest of 2021.

Picture: ROB CURRIE. (31160551)
Picture: ROB CURRIE. (31160551)

Chief Minister John Le Fondré has confirmed that a top-up will be needed to carry out Covid tests this year – in addition to an already agreed £30m set aside in the Government Plan.

However, no firm details have been provided as to where the extra £15m will come from and only a ‘letter of comfort’ has been provided outlining the need for the money. The Chief Minister said that charging for tests was one option that had been considered but ministers opted against this for the time being.

In a letter to Deputy Rob Ward, who chairs the Safer Travel Guidelines Scrutiny Review Panel, Senator Le Fondré said that between March 2020 and April 2021, a total of £27,323,519 had been recorded during ‘phase one and phase two of the testing and tracing programme’.

During this time, a total of 369,907 tests were carried out – equating to an average cost to the government of £74 per test.

The total 2021 spending on the testing programme is estimated to be £45.1m. This is made of up £33.1m for the total costs of testing plus an additional £1m a month for other expenditure, such as IT costs and monitoring and enforcement, associated with the scheme.

Senator Le Fondré said: ‘The current assumption for the source of this funding is the Covid Reserve. Charging for testing is being discussed, but the correct timing is crucial. The position to date is not to charge, which has been considered by ministers and it has been decided not to introduce charging at this stage, albeit stating they would keep this under review.’

The Chief Minister also said that there would be a ‘second marketing campaign’ to promote Jersey’s Covid Alert App to visitors arriving in the Island, with £15,000 set aside for this.

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