End of the travel testing scam? Watchdog promises swift crackdown on dishonest businesses charging holidaymakers huge sums for Covid swabs
- The Competition and Markets Authority said it was working on imminent “interim” measures to ensure families can get a well-deserved break abroad
- The body said it would “not hesitate to take enforcement action” against test providers flouting the law and failing to provide the service customers paid for.
- Some companies charge more than five times the price of a return flight to Europe
- Sajid Javid referred the travel testing market to the CMA amid rising reports of ‘scam’ prices and travelers receiving tests and results several days late
- The Daily Mail has been campaigning for fairer prices for consumers for weeks
The first signs of a crackdown on “scam” travel testing companies emerged last night as the competition watchdog pledged to help quickly tackle dishonest companies.
The Competition and Markets Authority said it was working on imminent “interim” measures to ensure families can get a well-deserved break abroad or reunite with loved ones abroad.
And he warned he “would not hesitate to take enforcement action” against vendors flouting the law and not giving customers what they paid for.
Over 400 private companies are listed on the government website for vacationers. Double-bitten travelers from countries on the Green and Orange lists must book a PCR test to be taken within two days of arriving in Britain. Passengers not fully vaccinated should book another test to take on the eighth day upon their return from Orange Countries.
The Competition and Markets Authority said it was working on imminent “interim” measures to ensure families can get a well-deserved break abroad or reunite with loved ones abroad [Stock image]
On Tuesday, the Mail revealed that some companies were charging more than five times the price of a round-trip flight to Europe for each swab.
Yesterday, among the 426 private companies on the government approved list, the average price of a single PCR swab after arrival was £ 91. The advertised prices range from £ 20 to £ 400 each.
Removing VAT on PCRs “would boost the economy by £ 5bn”
Removing VAT on Covid travel tests could boost the UK economy to £ 5 billion, new modeling shows.
The figures were based on the estimated 6.7 million Britons who would be encouraged to go on vacation if PCR tests were cheaper.
The University of Hull Business School study takes issue with the Treasury reported argument that VAT from testing, pictured, is a significant source of income amid the surge in pandemic debt.
Research predicts that cheaper tests could increase spending on outbound international travel from £ 9.4bn to £ 14.7bn for this quarter, or July through September.
In turn, the overall tax levy on holiday spending could drop from £ 1.92bn to £ 2.06bn.
Avi Lasarow, boss of testing firm Project Screen by Prenetics, said the VAT on testing was a “stealth tax” and companies could drive prices down if removed.
A government spokesperson said it was working with private suppliers to try to keep costs down.
The Daily Mail has campaigned for weeks for a fairer deal for potential travelers, calling for lower prices for testing and an end to unscrupulous practices.
It comes after Health Secretary Sajid Javid referred the travel testing market to the CMA amid rising reports of “scam” prices and travelers receiving tests and results several days late.
Some did not receive them at all, while others mistakenly received the results from another person.
This has led some to extend their quarantine period or even miss flights. Dozens of complaints have been lodged with Action Fraud.
Mr Javid called on the CMA to conduct a “rapid” review of “operating practices” among private providers of PCR tests.
The watchdog yesterday released a statement following suggestions he might not finish his job until the end of the summer vacation, which sparked an angry backlash from MPs and industry leaders of the trip, as many hope to travel before schools reopen in September.
George Lusty of the CMA acknowledged that this was an “urgent problem” and added: “This is why we are providing continued support to [the health department], including steps that could be considered in the interim before the rest of our work in the PCR testing market is concluded. ‘
The watchdog will examine whether private companies are breaking consumer law, what broader structural problems exist in the market and what action ministers should take.
The move was well received last night. Rory Boland, from whom? Travel said “it is encouraging to see CMA recognize the urgency of this issue.”
The CMA has the power to impose fines on companies, prosecute them or order them to change their procedures.
But a source said the watchdog believed the most effective and swift action would likely be advising Mr Javid on what action he should take.
This is because more formal CMA surveys usually take place over long periods of time.
The Department of Health said: ‘Pending the advice of the CMA, the government will continue to ensure that test providers are held accountable by the UK’s independent accreditation service. Companies that do not meet the required high standards will be removed from our list of approved suppliers without hesitation. ‘
Health Secretary Sajid Javid sent the travel testing market back to the CMA amid rising reports of ‘scam’ prices and travelers receiving tests and results several days late