Laboratory and Testing Industry Organisation

Less than a third of public will get a Covid test now they have to pay, despite having symptoms

London, 31 March 2022 – New research has revealed that less than a third of the public will get a Covid-19 test if they have to pay for it – even if they have symptoms – as England faces the end of universal free Covid testing from 1st April.

78% of England’s general public said that they would continue to take free tests when they are feeling unwell with Covid-like symptoms, according to a Survation survey of 1,732 English adults commissioned by the Laboratory and Testing Industry Organisation (LTIO).

BUT 58% of those people that said yes said they’d refuse to pay for Covid tests. Less than a third (32%) said they would stick to their guns and take a test even if they had to pay.

The findings suggest that Covid testing among the general public will collapse to less than a third of current rates when free testing in England ends on 1st April. This comes against a backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis, where 83% of the UK public noticed an increase in their cost of living in March, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The survey also found that the main reason that people would have chosen to take a test is to protect their family, friends and colleagues at work (42%). Meanwhile, 26% said it would be to prevent Covid from spreading across the community, while 20% said it would be for their own personal wellbeing.

It also revealed half (49%) of English adults said they will feel less safe when free testing ends – rising to 62% for 55-64 year olds.

And two thirds of people think employers should now provide free Covid tests for their employees (66%) with only 21% saying they shouldn’t.

Tom Watson, Chair, The Laboratory and Testing Industry Organisation, said:

“Given the cost-of-living crisis, the decision to end free tests from 1st April is clearly a concern for Britain’s workers and their families. The majority of people who say they would take a test when unwell with Covid symptoms change their minds when faced with a bill.

“These new findings clearly demonstrate that millions of people still want to get tested to reassure themselves and protect their families and colleagues at work, but they can’t afford to pay for those tests. It’s of particular concern right now given the recent spike in case numbers and hospital admissions. It will leave vulnerable groups at greater risk, particularly the immuno-suppressed.

“As we’ve consistently said, testing protects the nation from lockdowns, and that line of defence will be severely depleted from Friday 1st April.”

Survation polled 1,732 people 18+ in England between March 28-30th.

You can download the full findings of the survey here.