<p>The UK’s unregulated Covid testing market is under review </p>

The UK’s unregulated Covid testing market is under review

Only 2% of ‘cowboy’ Covid testing firms removed from government list, despite review

Only eight rip-off test firms have been removed from list

Lucy Thackray
Friday 20 August 2021 12:20

Fewer than 2 per cent of “cowboy” firms have been removed from the government’s official list of Covid test providers, despite Sajid Javid announcing an “urgent” review.

A week after the government committed to removing private test providers making false claims or advertising misleading costs from the list, only eight companies have been removed from the list of more than 400, found an investigation by The Telegraph.

The review was only slated to last 10 days in total.

On 13 August, the Health Secretary announced a review of the UK.gov list of test providers following reports of exploitative behaviour by travel testing firms in recent months.

He also announced that the cost of NHS testing packages would be reduced by a fifth.

“I know how much people have looked forward to their summer holidays and that the cost of PCR testing can be a barrier to that,” said Javid last week.

“That is why I am determined to protect consumers and hard-working families from exploitative practices and ensure high-quality tests are available at a reasonable price.”

Despite this, many misleading prices are still being offered by test providers on the list - such as “from £20” starting prices which, once customers click through, require them to travel to specific locations such as Glasgow or Livingstone.

Travellers clicking on tests advertised for £20 were often charged four times the price once they’d gone through to the provider’s website and selected the style and location of test.

Most of these testing sites were also unable to offer bookings before the end of August or even into September, well after the end of the UK’s peak holiday season.

Many “at home swabs” were found to still be priced at between £40 and £89 – up to four times the price advertised on the government’s website.

It follows the news that ministers were warned of the risks of consumers being ripped off by PCR test providers as early as April.

The Competition and Markets Authority says it provided the Department of Health and Social Care with an analysis of the fast-growing market for private test providers several months ago.

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