Local authorities across England have been allocated a share of £300m to support the new Test and Trace service.
Local authorities are central to the new NHS Test and Trace service, and each upper-tier local authority has now been awarded funding to develop tailored outbreak control plans, working with the service, their local NHS and other stakeholders.
Work on local outbreak control plans has already begun, focusing on identifying and containing potential outbreaks in communal areas such as workplaces, housing complexes, care homes and schools. Local authorities will also need to ensure testing capacity is deployed effectively to high-risk locations.
Funding has been allocated to councils based on need, with additional funding provided for communities with lower incomes and higher demand for local healthcare settings.
Minister for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health, Nadine Dorries, said: “Local authorities play a vital role in the effort to contain COVID-19 in their communities. The funding awarded today will help each local area work hand in hand with Public Health England and contact tracers to focus on the containment of local outbreaks, to control the transmission of this virus.
“The public response to the rollout of NHS Test and Trace has been fantastic, and we continue to rely on everyone to play their part and follow the latest guidelines. If you have symptoms of the virus, please book a test immediately and if you are contacted by the tracing service, it is vital that you follow their advice.”
Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke, said: “Councils are playing a hugely important role in our national efforts to respond to the virus, and this includes test and trace services. This £300m of funding is on top of the unprecedented £3.2bn package of support we have provided to councils to ensure they have what they need to tackle the virus and respond to the immediate pressures they have told us they are facing.
“Work is being led by local authority leaders and local directors of public health in charge of planning, and will build on existing efforts to respond to coronavirus locally. They are working in close partnership with local hospitals, GP practices, businesses, religious groups, schools and charities.”
Data on the spread of the virus will be shared with local authorities through the Joint Biosecurity Centre to inform local outbreak planning, so teams understand how the virus is moving. Local communities, organisations and individuals are now being encouraged to follow government guidance and assist those self-isolating in their area who need help. This will include encouraging neighbours to offer support, alongside identifying and working with relevant community groups.
National Test and Trace Adviser and Chief Executive of Leeds City Council, Tom Riordan, said: “Communities and local authorities must be at the heart of NHS Test and Trace. Their work to respond to the virus has already been exemplary, and demonstrates exactly how we have all come together to respond to the virus. The funding allocated today will support the joint endeavour between NHS Test and Trace, local government, and local partners to stop the spread of the virus. It will help to reduce the risk of widespread outbreaks in our schools, businesses, hospitals and communities.”