The Liberal Democrats have warned that the scrapping of Covid lateral flow tests will slap Eastbourne & Willingdon with a £5,583,778 “tax on caring”, with as many as 18,514 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 10,452 people in Eastbourne & Willingdon take regular Covid tests, with 18,514 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 10,452 who take an 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 Eastbourne & Willingdon of £5,583,778 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 7,655 in Eastbourne & Willingdon 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 Spokesperson for Eastbourne & Willingdon, Josh Babarinde OBE, said:
“Charging people in Eastbourne & Willingdon 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 less able to enjoy their lives. It is unfair and unjust.
“The Conservative MP in our area needs to make their voice heard and get behind scrapping these plans, to stop Eastbourne & Willingdon being hit with a cost of living with Covid crisis.
“Throughout the pandemic, the good people of Eastbourne & Willingdon have been trying hard to do the right thing and keep others safe. The Government should not be making that harder.”