Ministers doing bare minimum to stop Covid travel test ‘rip-offs’, says Labour

Transport secretary, Grant Shapps, urged to name and shame firms displaying misleading pricing

Ministers have been accused of doing the “bare minimum” to curb companies charging “misleading” prices for Covid travel tests and instead have been urged to name and shame the firms. Ahead of a review of the traffic light system of quarantine rules which government sources said was unlikely to result in many major changes, Labour urged the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, to take tougher action against businesses “exploiting” the pandemic by imposing “rip-off” prices.

Ministers announced earlier this week that 82 companies had been issued a “two-strike warning” for displaying lower prices on the gov.uk website than were available at the point of checkout, making up about 18% of the companies on the government’s approved list. The true costs of the tests have now been updated and companies will be removed if they are found to advertise misleading prices again, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

However, the shadow transport secretary, Jim McMahon, said a faster and better way to ensure fairness would be to name and shame those that fail to be transparent about the cost of their tests. McMahon – who has also called for the government to publish the full data behind decisions to change the traffic light system which grades countries according to factors including their Covid case, vaccine and variant rate – argued ministers should be doing “all they can” to support travellers, “rather than adding to their costs”.

He said: “The government has failed to properly vet the test providers listed on its own website, with incomplete and often inaccurate information offered to the public, as well as misleading prices. “Ministers have done the bare minimum to help families desperate to get away for a break after such a difficult time, instead leaving them to foot unreasonable and hidden costs. Naming and shaming providers who are exploiting this situation is the least they can do.” The Department for Transport was contacted for comment. MPs, including Conservatives, have also pushed for the cost of travel tests to be brought down significantly.

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