Thousands in St Albans will face £500 'tax on caring' as Covid tests scrapped


Liberal Democrats are warning that the scrapping of free Covid lateral flow tests will slap St Albans with a £7,741,709 “tax on caring,” with as many as 14,491 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 14,491 people in St Albans take regular Covid tests, with 25,669 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 14,491 people in St Albans 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 St Albans of 7,741,709 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 6,840 in St Albans 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.

Daisy Cooper, MP for St Albans, says: “Charging for essential tests will hit those who can least afford it hardest, at a time when families are already being clobbered by rising taxes and soaring energy bills.

“The Government was happy to waste billions of taxpayers’ cash on useless PPE, but is penny-pinching when it comes to providing people with vital Covid tests.

“It’s clear that the Government isn't acting in the national interest but instead is keen to help their wealthy friends make more money from the pandemic.

"The NHS Act 1966 guarantees an NHS free at the point of use. I’ll be writing to the Govt now to demand Covid testing continues to be free at the point of use."

St Albans council leader Chris White added: “Throughout the pandemic, the good people of St Albans have been trying hard to do the right thing and keep others safe. The Government should not be making that harder.

"Charging people in St Albans 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." 


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