Ministers accused of dropping plans to lower the price of overseas vacations by allowing families to bring free Covid-19 rapid tests with them
- A scheme for Britons to take a lateral flow test was considered earlier this year
- But sources said the money to pay them was due to run out this month
- And insiders added that there were no plans to replace the funding
Ministers have been accused of scrapping plans to lower the price of overseas vacations by allowing families to bring rapid and free Covid-19 tests with them.
A scheme allowing holidaymakers to take a lateral flow test before returning to Britain was considered earlier this year.
But sources have said the money to pay it is set to run out this month – and no plans to replace the funding have been announced.
There were concerns over whether the tests would gain official approval due to the difficulty of proving when they are passed, as well as questions about their accuracy.
This means ministers missed an opportunity to save money for struggling families when they travel overseas.
A scheme for holidaymakers to take a lateral flow test (pictured) before returning to Britain was considered earlier this year
Cheaper and faster lateral flow tests are currently being distributed free by the government to all who need them.
And airlines have argued the UK is forcing passengers to far higher standards than other countries by refusing to allow rapid tests, which ministers deem sufficient for schools.
Failure to provide the free tests means families going abroad have to pay for the pre-return tests in order to be able to return to the UK.
Although the NHS lateral flow tests are CE approved – meaning they meet certain safety and specification standards – travelers should be supervised while taking them.
This is in part so that people can receive official documents showing the time the test was taken and the official result to be displayed at the UK border upon their return.
But that would potentially mean that NHS workers would supervise people taking tests on an online video call, something for which there are few valuable resources.
This means that families have been forced to turn to private providers. British Airways is offering a supervised pre-return test via online video call for £ 39.
That would add more than £ 150 to the holiday bill for a family of four, or almost £ 200 for a family of five if their children were 11 or older.
Paying a clinician in a foreign country to administer one could result in an even higher bill.
The cost of testing private providers has generally fallen as more companies have entered the market.
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, one of 17 MPs who signed a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling on him to remove VAT on PCR testing, said the government must keep its pledge to provide pre-testing devices -free returns that people could take in their luggage. to take with them
But of the more than 300 government-approved providers listed online, the average overall price of a single PCR test is still over £ 100.
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, one of 17 MPs who signed a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling on him to remove VAT on PCR testing, said the government must keep its pledge to provide pre-testing devices -free returns that people could take in their luggage. to take with them.
He said, “They have to pass the free tests. They desperately need to keep this promise to the British public, airlines and airport operators.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “We want travel to be as safe as possible and lateral flow testing is widely available at low cost in most of the green list countries. We are seeing how we can further reduce costs by continuing to work with the travel industry and private test providers. ‘