El canciller, Rishi Sunak, has suggested changes could be made to test-and-trace app self-isolation alerts amid a surge in coronavirus cases.
Acknowledging public “frustration”, he said on Thursday that the health secretary, Sajid Javid, was looking at an “appropriate, balanced and proportionate” approach for the app.
Sunak’s comments follow reports of numerous people deleting the NHS Covid app before the government’s planned lockdown easing on 19 July through fear of being contacted. A user is not legally required to self-isolate when alerted by the app because all data is anonymous.
With a decision on self-isolation rules delayed until 16 agosto, businesses have warned of “carnage” across the hospitality sector as staff are forced to take time off work. The concerns have been raised as more than 32,000 coronavirus cases were recorded on Wednesday, the highest daily figure since January.
The chancellor told Sky News he had spoken to Javid, who was “aware” of concerns over the app, and suggested the health secretary was looking at possible solutions.
Él dijo: “I’ve spoken to the health secretary about this and he is aware of the frustration that people have around this. We have two different systems for the test and trace: we have obviously the NHS one, and we also have the app. I know most people’s concerns rest with how the app is working and the health secretary is aware of that.
“The app counts for the majority of people who need to isolate, I understand on the numbers, and he’s looking at what the most appropriate, balanced, and proportionate approach to isolation is in these circumstances.”
Sunak also signalled that the triple lock on pensions could be broken amid concerns state pensions may rise by 8% because of the coronavirus pandemic.
He declined to rule out scrapping the Conservative manifesto commitment, saying any decision will be fair “both for pensioners and for taxpayers”. He told BBC Breakfast: “Our approach to these things will be driven by fairness – fairness both for pensioners and for taxpayers.”
“The triple lock is the government’s policy but I very much recognise people’s concerns. I think they are completely legitimate and fair concerns to raise. We want to make sure the decisions we make and the systems we have are fair, both for pensioners and for taxpayers.”
The Office for Budget Responsibility (GIGANTE) predicted a rise of up to 8% from April next year, which could cost an extra £3bn in government spending.
Sunak has defended the decision to cut the £20 weekly increase in universal credit introduced during the coronavirus crisis. He told Times Radio: “I think people understand what’s right for a crisis, and what’s meant to be temporary obviously is different when we get through that.”