FOREIGN holidays are set to become cheaper for millions of Brits with minsters set to launch a blitz on rip-off Covid tests.
Health secretary Sajid Javid has ordered an audit of the list of Government approved providers travellers have to use to book swabs.
He has vowed to boot off companies that are overcharging or delivering a "low quality" service.
The move comes amid growing concern that the "extortionate" cost of testing in the UK is crippling the recovery from the pandemic.
Brits are currently having to pay by far the highest prices of people in any major European country for swabs.
Analysis of the Government-approved list of providers shows the average charge for two PCR tests is an eye-watering £171.
Meanwhile one kit costs £100, meaning that even travelling to a green country results in a £400 extra cost for a family of four.
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In comparison, the average price of getting a swab in most major EU countries is around £40 or less.
Many nations on the continent, including France and Belgium, also provide free testing for citizens and residents.
Officials at the department of health will now "rapidly" carry out a full audit of the 420 providers on the UK Government site.
A source told The Times: "Sajid Javid wants to crack down on private test providers who are ripping people off or providing low-quality products."
Swabs in the UK are available from as little as £20, but they're often conditional on attending a specific testing site.
Two of the cheapest available are in Warrington and Gloucester. But such locations are rare and impractical for many travellers.
There are now calls for ministers to drop VAT on tests which would help bring down the cost by 20%.
Travel industry chiefs are also calling on No 10 to switch to cheaper lateral flow tests to reduce the burden on passengers.
They say more expensive PCR swabs could be used as a "confirmatory" measure in the event of a positive result.
The International Air Transport Association said the price of testing is a major barrier to reopening Britain to the world.
This is the last chance saloon now for saving the summer
Chief executive Willie Walsh said: "The UK is the poster child for governments failing to adequately manage testing.
"At best it is expensive, at worst extortionate. And in either case, it is a scandal that the Government is charging VAT."
Ministers have said PCR tests are necessary because lab analysis allows scientists to track new variants entering the country.
Boris Johnson is also facing growing calls to add more countries to the green list amid warnings we're in the "last chance saloon" to save summer.
Travel experts have said up to 17 more nations including Germany and Canada could go quarantine-free this week.
Meanwhile cabinet ministers and backbench MPs are fighting against plans for a new "amber watchlist" that could include Spain and Italy.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, added: “The EU must be looking at us in incredulity.
"We have totally squandered the vaccine dividend we had built up. No wonder passengers have no idea whether they’re coming or going.
"Green is the only way forward for the industry — this is the last chance saloon now for saving the summer."
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