Sheffield MP Louise Hague slams 'scandalous' cost of PCR tests for travellers under new Covid rules

A Sheffield MP has slammed the ‘scandalous’ costs travellers entering the UK are faced with when booking their compulsory PCR test.

Thursday, 9th December 2021, 1:43 pm

Following the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid to the UK, from December 7 it became mandatory that fully vaccinated travellers entering the UK undergo a lateral flow or PCR test to prove they do not have Covid.

However, the tests you can get from a pharmacy or a GP are not accepted. The Government has made it so that the tests taken to allow a person to travel must be booked and paid for using a list of providers on the Government’s website. The links on this website then direct you to the private companies’ pages.

A lateral flow test typically costs around £20 from the providers and a PCR test required to enter the UK costs upwards of £35.

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Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh has criticised the 'scandalous' cost of Covid tests for people travelling to and from the UK. Picture Scott Merrylees

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These are the new Omicron travel rules that have come into effect

Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, has slammed the process, branding the prices charged for the compulsory tests as ‘scandalous’.

She said: “Many flying home for their first Christmas since the pandemic began will be hit with scandalous testing costs.

“Unscrupulous private providers are pocketing millions, and leaving many families forced to shell out huge sums.

“Ministers are sitting on their hands while people who want to do the right thing are paying the price for this broken market.

“The Government must act ahead of the Christmas travel period, implement the recommendation of the regulator, and urgently consider bringing in a price cap to tackle the extortionate prices.”

Some providers listed on the website charge up to £399 for a PCR test, adding huge additional cost to travel.

A review by the Competition and Markets Authority in September found that the £490m industry was setting ‘extremely high mark-ups’ which ‘could not be explained by costs’. They said unexplained high prices were ‘indicative of consumers getting a poor deal’.

The regulatory body also warned there were no checks whatsoever on whether individuals associated with providers had criminal convictions, or had been subject to enforcement action previously.

Ms Haigh also took to Twitter to highlight the ‘baiting scams’ test providers use to try and get people to purchase their tests.

The shadow transport secretary shared information showing how firms offering PCR tests on the Government’s website were ‘baiting’ people by claiming to offer them as cheap as 30p to get to the top of the list – which is presented is descending price order with the cheapest highest up.

However, when you clicked on these links, the cheapest full price available was £59.

Ms Haigh added: “Ministers were told to ban this 'bait-pricing' scam months ago, yet they've sat idly by.

“It is families and passengers just wanting to do the right thing who are paying the price for this broken market.”

The Department for Transport has been approached by The Star for comment.