Small business minister Paul Scully has defended the government’s plans to scrap free Covid testing from 31 March.
Scully argued that the Government must take into account whether the tests are worth the £2 billion in spending currently allocated toward them per month.
When quizzed over the plans by TalkRadio this morning, he argued: “We don’t test for flu, we don’t test for other transmissible illnesses,” and that the spending might be “better spent” tackling the backlog of routine NHS appointments.
He also told Sky News’ Breakfast programme: “If you think about what that £2 billion might go towards, there’s a lot of other backlogs in the NHS, other illnesses in the NHS that that money could otherwise go to.”
“So for every person that’s worried about a test, there may be another person who’s worried about a cancer diagnosis or something.”
While Scully admitted that he would permit his own staff work remotely following the scrapping of self-isolation rules , he stressed that it was up to individuals and businesses to make their own decisions.
“It will come back to employers and employees to make those decisions for themselves but we’ll see that guidance later.”
“Like any illness, any transmissible illness, you would say stay at home if you had a flu or something like that,” but explained that “ it would be down to themselves or down to their employer.”
“This is why we need to make sure we have really good guidance for employers but as I say there comes a time when the pandemic means a more endemic approach to Covid in the same way as flu and other viruses are treated and that’s what we’ve got to get back to.
“But it’s a fine balance, clearly, and that’s why Cabinet is meeting this morning to go through the science, to go through that balance and debate it and then obviously the Prime Minister will come to Parliament to make his announcement.”
He also went on to respond to questions over Boris Johnson’s premiership as the Metropolitan Police investigation into multiple allegations of lockdown-breaching gatherings in No 10 and Whitehall continues.
He claimed there was a “real high bar” for Boris Johnson to resign over the scandal.
In a BBC interview on Sunday, Johnson said the voters “won’t have long” before the Met inquiry makes a conclusion, but did not say whether or not he would resign should he be found guilty of a rule breach.
“What we want to do is look at what happens with police action, the police report and then what happens with the Sue Gray report and look at it in the round,” Scully told Sky News.
“I’ve always said I treat it with a real high bar to get rid of any Prime Minister. I think we just need to see it in the round. I need to see context… I want to see the Sue Gray report, see what the police find and then we can have that conversation at that point. I’m going to wait to see context before I really make any more judgement on it.”