Javid to cut extortionate Covid test costs… Unfair market practices to be reviewed

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The Health Secretary has already asked the competition watchdog to investigate 420 firms amid reports of holidaymakers being charged extortionate sums.

PCRs cost holidaymakers an average of £75 per person, even if they have been vaccinated. But similar tests sell for as little as £30 or as much as £270.

In France, the average cost is £42 while in Greece it is less than £40.

The tests are required for all travellers returning from amber and green list countries.

Figures released last week showed that £35million had been paid for 500,000 tests, of which 6,977 were positive.

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Some firms have failed to deliver results on time, leading to missed flights.

Others have been criticised for advertising tests at a low price, which rises when a customer clicks on the website.

Kits for use on days two and eight following arrival in the UK ranged from £23.99 to £575 on the Government website one day last week.

Some customers have complained of not receiving results while others have been sent damaged kits.

Mr Javid said: “People should be able to go on holiday, whether it’s to see family or just to relax, without fearing excessive fees for PCR tests.

“That’s why I’ve asked the independent Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to see how we can crack down on unfair market practices.”

In his letter to the CMA chief executive asking for a rapid high-level review, Mr Javid wrote: “The cost of PCR testing can act as a barrier, especially for families who want to travel together.

“It is not right if some families experience further disruption unnecessarily because of practices in the market for private travel tests.”

Tory MPs are pushing for the Government to replace PCRs with the cheaper and quicker, but less accurate, lateral flow tests.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said the PCRs are more “helpful” because they can be used to keep track of variants.

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