Sunday 5 December 2021 / 8:57 AM Coronavirus / Louise Haigh / Transport

Labour urges Ministers to consider price cap to tackle “scandalous” PCR travel costs

Labour has demanded the Government take action to tackle the extortionate costs of PCR testing, which is leaving many travellers forced to pay eye-watering sums to private providers.

This month, millions are due to return to the UK, many for their first Christmas since the pandemic began.

But sky-high testing costs, with some providers listed on the website charging up to £399, are 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.”

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

Labour is demanding Ministers urgently consider a price cap, like in France and Belgium, and take the tough enforcement action demanded by the regulator to tackle the extortionate costs ahead of the busy Christmas period, and to guard against the risks of the Omicron variant.

Labour wrote to Ministers earlier this week demanding they take action and introduce pre-departure testing. It is estimated that up to 10,000 cases arrived in the UK from Spain, France and Italy in early March 2020, rapidly accelerating the pace and scale of the pandemic.

Louise Haigh MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, 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.”