£37 billion was the two-year budget for NHS Test and Trace, not how much was spent

16 May 2022
What was claimed

£37 billion has been spent on NHS Test and Trace, and it’s not clear how this money was used.

Our verdict

This figure was the budget for the scheme in its first two years—around £29.5 billion was actually spent. While detailed figures for 2021/22 have not yet been published, the vast majority of spending in the scheme’s first year went on testing.

Posts on Facebook which have been shared hundreds of times have questioned where the £37 billion allocated for the running of the NHS Test and Trace scheme was spent. 

One post, which is a screenshot of a tweet, states: “Tories explaining to us how to manage our money might perhaps start by telling us where the £37BN Dido Harding got for Test and Trace went.”

Another post, also a screenshot of a tweet, says: “I can’t be the only one who wants to know how they spent 37 BILLION on track and trace? How is that even possible? That is 37,000 million. Thirty seven, thousand, million. £37,000,000,000. [...] An audit is a must. Where did it go?”

As we’ve written before, £37 billion was the total two-year budget allocated to Test and Trace, not the actual amount spent. 

Details on how the money which was actually spent was used have been published throughout the pandemic, and it was audited. 

How the budget was spent 

The NHS Test and Trace budget was originally £22 billion in 2020/21 and £15 billion in 2021/22, making a total of £37 billion (though the 2021/22 budget was subsequently revised down to £14 billion).

NHS Test and Trace spent £13.5 billion in 2020/21, while spending in 2021/22 amounted to £16 billion, making a total of £29.5 billion. 

A detailed account of how the funding for 2021/2022 was used has not yet been published, but in June 2021 the National Audit Office (NAO) published a breakdown of spending in the first year of the scheme. 

The vast majority of the £13.5 billion spent in this period—£10.4 billion—was spent on testing. As we’ve previously written, the next largest expenditures were on local Covid-19 outbreak management and support (£1.8 billion) and national contact tracing (£910 million).

The budget set for the second year of the scheme was similar, with testing by far the largest projected expense. 

Image courtesy of Annie Spratt

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as missing context because the posts do not include publicly-available information on the amount actually spent or how it was spent.

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