The NHS Test and Trace app did not cost £37 billion

24 February 2023
What was claimed

£37 billion was spent on the test and trace app.

Our verdict

This is the total budget for the entire NHS Test and Trace programme in its first two years. In the 2020-21 financial year, the app cost around £35 million.

A Facebook post wrongly claims £37 billion was spent “on a failed track and trace app”.

The £37 billion figure refers to the total budget allocated to NHS Test and Trace in its first two years. However, not all of that money was used, and only a fraction of it was spent on the NHS Covid-19 app.

According to the National Audit Office (NAO), as of June 2022 approximately £25.7 billion had actually been spent on the entire Test and Trace programme, with an estimated lifetime cost of £29.3 billion.

Of the approximately £13.5 billion spent on the NHS Test and Trace programme in 2020-21 (the NAO has not published a report for 2021-22), only £35 million was spent on the app. The vast majority was accounted for by testing (£10.4 billion).

This figure has been misused frequently on social media, as we’ve written several times previously. It was also used by a Labour MP, who corrected himself after being contacted by Full Fact. 

Inaccurate claims about the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic have spread widely on social media, and can damage trust in politics.

Image courtesy of John Cameron

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.