Sajid Javid has asked the UK’s competition watchdog to investigate PCR Covid test firms that are selling tests at “excessive” prices and engaging in “exploitative practices”.
The health secretary wrote to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to call for a “high-level review” in a bid to protect holidaymakers requiring private PCR tests before and after travelling.
Most private PCR tests cost around £75, however some holidaymakers have complained about some companies charging hundreds of pounds.
NHS PCR tests cannot be used for travel purposes and can only be ordered if people have Covid-19 symptoms.
International Air Travel Association director general, and former British Airways boss, Willie Walsh has also accused some PCR test firms of “profiteering”.
The Sunday Times reports that Javid wants to stamp out PCR test firms that are price gouging consumers.
In the letter to the CMA, Javid said: “I know that for too many people the cost of PCR testing can act as a barrier, especially for families who want to travel together.
“We have all experienced enormous disruption to our lives over this pandemic but it is not right if some families experience yet further disruption unnecessarily because of potentially unfair practices in the market for private travel tests.”
A CMA spokesperson said: “We are aware of concerns about the evolving markets for COVID-19 tests for international travellers. We look forward to providing the secretary of state with advice on how best to ensure that travellers have access to tests that are affordable and reliable.”
UKAS, the body in charge of assessing private test providers for travellers, told City A.M. earlier this week that it has fully accredited only around 25 of the 420 PCR providers on the government’s list – representing around 6 per cent.
This number is “increasing every day”, the body said, but their three stage accreditation process takes around a year for each provider.