Scrapping free self-testing would hurt communities that need it most

People could be charged for at home Coronavirus lateral flow tests from next month, under plans now being considered by the government. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has revealed that the tests are only guaranteed to be free until the end of July.

Kate Dearden, Head of Research, Policy and External Relations at Community, says:

“If we want to keep cases down, and make sure that everyone who needs to self-isolate does, then testing must be free and widely available. Self-testing allows people to protect themselves and others, giving them the confidence that they are not infectious. We saw in the lateral flow testing pilot in Liverpool that cases fell by 21% when mass at-home testing was utilised properly.

Scrapping the policy now will hurt communities up and down the country, and especially those who need free and safe access to testing most.

The pandemic is not even close to over, and with case rates rising testing is key tool we can use to keep ourselves and others safe. Many people will not get tested if there is a cost associated, and after a challenging year for many financially those who will face the brunt of these charges will be those on low incomes or unemployed, the young and the vulnerable.

Introducing these charges alongside the scrapping of the Universal Credit uplift is as cruel as it is self-defeating.

We need free and universal self-testing and an increased rate of sick pay, so that anyone that needs to test and isolate can afford to do so.”

If you are a member of Community and need help or advice, please contact us at or on 0800 389 6332.

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