A spokesperson for the government said: ‘Our use of social media influencers has meant over 7 million people have been reached. As a responsible government, we will use every means possible to keep the public informed during the pandemic and raise awareness of NHS Test and Trace. This is just one part of a wider campaign utilising TV, radio, social, print and other advertisements to ensure the public has the information it needs.’
However, Layla Moran, a Lib Dem MP, slammed the Government for the move, saying: ‘Rather than spending taxpayers’ money on publicity stunts, ministers should be making sure the test and trace system actually works. The fact that they are paying for reality stars to post on social media to try to hide their failures is beyond ridiculous.’
Meanwhile, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, John O’Connell said: ‘Z-list celebrities should not be paid to push messages which plenty of people have been doing free of charge. If these influencers want to help with the Covid campaign, they should promote the message for free.’
The Government has not yet disclosed how much influencers were paid to promote Test and Trace but the going rate for former Love Islanders is believed to be between £5,000 to £10,000 per Instagram post. Meanwhile, influencers with smaller followings are likely to have been paid up to £200.
Others have criticised the campaign, pointing out that many of the stars who were promoting Test and Trace have also posted pictures to their Instagram feeds that seem to show them flouting social distancing regulations by posing without masks for group photos on nights out and jetting off on holidays abroad with groups of pals.