REDDITCH Liberal Democrats say the scrapping of free Covid lateral flow tests will result in Redditch residents facing ‘£3million tax on caring’.
They say as many as 5,653 residents are facing costs of over £500 a year to take regular tests and visit vulnerable relatives.
They say that on average, more than 10,000 Covid tests are taken in the town each 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.
Assuming a lateral Flow Test will cost around £5.80 each, analysis by the Liberal Democrats estimates that those people in Redditch taking two tests a week face a hit of £534 a year.
Their calculations come after the decision was taken to scrap free lateral flow tests by the Government, despite their own scientific advisors on the SAGE committee warning that removing free testing will ‘increase anxiety’ and limit social participation outside the home.
Redditch Lib Dem spokesman Mark Tomes said: “Charging people in Redditch 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.
“Throughout the pandemic, the good people of Redditch have been trying hard to do the right thing and keep others safe.
“The Government should not be making that harder.”
In reply, Redditch MP Rachel Maclean said: “As we learn to live with Covid, some limited groups will remain eligible for free testing including those in the oldest age groups, those most vulnerable to Covid, as well social care staff.
“The Health Secretary has also said if NHS staff need tests they will be provided with free tests. The Government is also working with retailers to ensure that everyone who wants to can buy a test.
“We know that Covid has not gone away, and it will not suddenly disappear, so I believe we need to learn to live with the virus, continuing to protect ourselves without restricting freedoms.”