The Liberal Democrats have warned that the scrapping of Covid lateral flow tests will slap Bath with a £8,373,556 “tax on caring,” with as many as 15,673 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 15,673 people in Bath and North East Somerset take regular Covid tests, with 27,764 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 15,673 people in Bath 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 Bath and North East Somerset of £8,373,556 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 9,710 in Bath 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 MP for Bath, Wera Hobhouse said:
“Charging people in Bath 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.
“Throughout the pandemic, the good people of Bath have been trying hard to do the right thing and keep others safe. The Government should not be making that harder.”