Cleckheaton councillor calls on Government to scrap test and trace system and fund Kirklees system

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The Government should terminate its test and trace contract with outsourcing group Serco and hand over funding to local authorities to run the system instead.

That’s the opinion of leading Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Kath Pinnock, who said Serco had “failed spectacularly” to run an effective and efficient service.

She said local government – such as Kirklees Council – had “a proven track record” in reacting to the coronavirus in its areas, and that councils were best-placed to run a system that controlled infection and prevented deaths.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Baroness Pinnock, who is also a long-serving member of Kirklees Council, spoke out after it was revealed that technical problems had led to the under-reporting of Covid cases.

She described a reported 16,000 missing Covid cases, which went astray following an IT glitch, as “the last straw”.

Coun Pinnock represents Cleckheaton ward, which experienced a coronavirus outbreak in June at the Kober meat processing factory in Hunsworth.

She said: “My plea to Government is to terminate the Serco test and trace contract. The current system is finding fewer than 70% of Covid contacts. It needs to find at least 80% if it’s going to be successful.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It’s vital that test and trace works effectively. It’s failing and it’s been shown to be failing for the last two or three months. That failure has quite dramatic consequences.

“Local authorities are largely more effective in getting the system to work and in stopping the spread of the virus.

“How about giving some money to local government to succeed? We would be in a much better place.”

Two months ago Kirklees Council’s leader, Coun Shabir Pandor, said the authority was investigating setting up its own Covid-19 test and trace system.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But Coun Pinnock said operating on a much larger scale required hard cash – such as a share of the reported £1bn handed to Serco.

“The Government is trying to get local councils to take on more responsibility without giving them the money.

“It would be too big a task to take on completely without the funding.

“My understanding is that Serco was given a £1bn contract, which they then used to sub-contract to other providers.

“That’s a huge amount of money.

“Come on, Government. Do something else. Get rid of this silly, inefficient scheme that you have set up and try something else.”


Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.