Government minister struggles to defend £7,360-a-day pay for consultants behind NHS Test and Trace

Radio presenter Nick Ferrari (L) and business minister Nadhim Zahawi on LBC radio

LBC radio presenter Nick Ferrari (L) and business minister Nadhim Zahawi - Credit: LBC

A government minister has struggled to defend the pay of some private contractors behind the ailing NHS Test and Trace system.

A report by Sky News revealed the government is paying contractors from the Boston Consulting Group around £7,000 a day to help with the coronavirus test and trace system.

Up to 40 consultants were paid about £10 million for four months' work between the end of April and late August.

The report comes amid heavy criticism of the government's £12 billion test and trace system which has seen the percentage of people receiving test results in 24 hours drop from 38% to 24%.

MORE: Boris Johnson told to 'keep up' after appearing to lose track of coronavirus restrictions

When pressed about the news on LBC radio, business minister Nadhim Zahawi said that "parts of the system are working really well".

Zahawi then said the French president, Emmanuel Macron, complimented England's contract tracing app while admitting the French version had not worked so well.

MORE: Coronavirus app has only sent one alert about outbreak in venues since it started

Presenter Nick Ferrari pressed minister again, asking: "Some of these people are earning £7,000 a day, which in some instances is the price of failure. So, I ask you again minister, how can you possibly justify that?"

"I haven't seen the report you're asking me about," was the minister's reply.

"It's in the papers minister, have your team not briefed you on this? It's in all the newspapers this morning," Ferrari shot back.

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Zahawi said he wanted to see the "detail" before commenting.

Daniel James Crandon tweeted: "He can't justify it. That's why he won't answer the question."

Terry White added: "There is no way that this can ever be justified."

One user waded in with: "I’m a consultant that worked on various government projects. This is the root issue. ‘Comfortable’ civil servants who call in expensive 3rd parties when work gets a little bit difficult. Long-term answer is to uplift civil servant skills."

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