The cost of scrapping COVID tests

A template press release on the scrapping of COVID tests and the cost to people in your area


Please see below for a template press release on the scrapping of COVID tests and the cost to people in your area.

Please use this spreadsheet to fill in the gaps. Data is organised by local authority area.

This template is for use in England only.

Any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch on press@libdems.org.uk 

Scrapping of COVID tests: [INSERT FIGURE - COLUMN G] people in [INSERT AREA] to face £500 "tax on caring" 

The Liberal Democrats have warned that the scrapping of COVID lateral flow tests will slap [INSERT AREA] with a [INSERT FIGURE - COLUMN H] “tax on caring,” with as many as [INSERT FIGURE - COLUMN B] residents facing costs of over £500 a year to take regular tests and visit vulnerable relatives.

Despite the easing of COVID restrictions, the latest figures show that every week an estimated [INSERT FIGURE - COLUMN G] people in [INSERT AREA] take regular COVID tests, with [INSERT FIGURE - COLUMN F] tests being taken in an average week. This includes people who take tests to protect their elderly relatives and friends, or vulnerable workers who work in people-facing industries such as hospitality and are concerned about their health. 

Analysis by the Liberal Democrats estimates that the [INSERT FIGURE - COLUMN G] people in [INSERT AREA] who take on average two tests a week face a hit of £534 a year, assuming lateral flow tests cost around £5.80 each. This represents a total ‘tax on caring’ for people in [INSERT AREA] of [INSERT FIGURE - COLUMN H] each year.

These people are part of the almost four million across England facing costs of over £500 a year after the decision was taken to scrap lateral flow tests. The move will be of particular concern for the [INSERT FIGURE - COLUMN I] in [INSERT AREA] previously identified as clinically extremely vulnerable, after the government’s own scientific advisers on the SAGE committee warned that removing free testing will “increase anxiety” and limit the “social participation outside the home” of those who are clinically vulnerable or who live with someone who is.

Liberal Democrat [SPOKESPERSON/CHAIR/CANDIDATE/ETC.] for [INSERT AREA], [INSERT NAME] said:

Charging people in [INSERT AREA] for the tests they need to safely see vulnerable loved ones is a tax on caring, that risks leaving thousands in this area in lockdown by stealth.

“It means vulnerable people in our community will see fewer loved ones and will be able to enjoy less of their lives. It is unfair and unjust. 

“The Conservative [MP/Group Leader etc.] in our area needs to make their voice heard and get behind scrapping these plans, to stop [INSERT AREA] being hit with a cost of living with COVID crisis.

“Throughout the pandemic, the good people of [INSERT AREA] have been trying hard to do the right thing and keep others safe. The Government should not be making that harder.”

ENDS

Notes to Editor

Full breakdown by local authority area

According to the latest weekly statistics from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) for NHS Test and Trace, in the week of 3 to 9 February 2022 there were 3,904,391 people in England that tested for COVID-19 using Lateral Flow Device (LFD) or PCR tests. The number of people in the general public that took a COVID-19 test that week (via what is known as “Pillar 2”) can be found in Table 1 - “Number of people tested in pillar 2".

UKSHA data shows that this group took 6,916,248 tests - most of which were LFD tests. The number of LFD and PCR tests taken between 3 and 9 February 2022 by the general public can be found in tables 1 and 3. A breakdown of PCR and LFD tests taken in each local authority can be found in tables 2 and 5 in the same spreadsheet.

The above figures suggest that the 3.9 million people testing for COVID-19 each week use roughly two tests a week. Should they wish to continue taking 2 tests a week after they’re no longer free, they face a cost of £534.25 a year on average.

Publicly available figures suggest that the average retail cost of Lateral Flow tests in western countries including the US, France, Spain and Belgium is roughly £5.80.