Industry News

Highlighting the Issue with COVID Testing & Migrant Workers

Are you a migrant worker or an individual with no credit record? Then an at-home test might be out of the question…

Canva Designed graphic with gradient background and staff with PPE clothing - resembling the difficulties of getting a home COVID test if you're a migrant worker or have poor credit

One of the many innovations throughout the course of the coronavirus pandemic has meant that people are now able to get a testing kit sent to their home address, perfect if you can pass the government’s ID check – but not if you’re a migrant worker or have no credit history.

COVID Home Test Requirements

Getting one of these home tests requires you to head over to the government website to request one but this requires an identity check which includes your address, credit score and mobile phone number which can prevent some individuals from being eligible.

To prove your identity, the Department for Health and Social Care, who is in charge of the testing system runs a basic credit check through the credit reference agency TransUnion. Credit checks are completed to “reduce fraud and prevent multiple kits from being ordered, diverting capacity from where it’s needed most”

But for people in the UK who have a very basic or no credit history, they’re repeatedly finding they can not get a home test delivered.

Struggles Being Faced by Migrant Workers

In a recent interview on Radio Four’s Money Box programme, Laura McCormack, a migrant worker who recently moved to the UK a year ago, explained that her partner and herself tried to apply for an ‘at-home’ coronavirus test after experiencing three major symptoms but were denied as “their names and addresses could not be checked” so would need to get a physical test done at one of the UK’s testing centres.

In the Money Box interview, Laura said: “The situation seems a bit crazy to me, to be honest. We are guests in the UK, we’re trying very hard to keep the population safe by self-isolating and getting tested,

“But not being able to verify our identity was very strange. We’re both on the electoral roll, we both have bank accounts here, we’re on a lease, we both have bills.”

Who’s Being Affected?

After researching some of the reasons Laura and her partner couldn’t get a home test, she thought it might be the fact they were both migrant workers and had recently moved to the UK.

People who could be affected by this form of identity check includes young adults who may have not had the time to build up their credit score, people who still live at home with their parents and don’t have credit in their name and individuals on a low income who may not have access to mainstream banking or credit facilities.

Medical UK NHS worker performing drive-thru COVID-19 test ,taking nasal swab specimen sample from male patient through car window, PCR diagnostic for Coronavirus presence, doctor in PPE holding test kit

So, What’s Wrong with Getting a Physical Test?

In theory, heading to a testing site is a suitable alternative for a large majority of people but what if the site is too far away to get to? As we know, if you have any symptoms of the virus you should self-isolate and avoid public transport and taxi’s – but if a testing centre is too far to walk, then what?

In the end, Laura had to walk 90 minutes to a testing centre in order to get the test needed as she had no car available and didn’t want to potential affect other UK residents. This could prove incredibly difficult for people who are feeling under the weather or need to be tested in order to go back to work, meaning they will require more time off for at least the two-week isolation period.

Should our Credit History Remain History?

The reasons behind using our credit scores as a primary source of identification are difficult to fathom at best. This form of identification closes the door on so many individuals who don’t have a credit record. For example, individuals who are visiting the UK for a few months (e.g. seasonal workers), may not have a need to open any credit accounts, yet still need to prove their identity to gain entry to the UK.

Some individuals who would be able to pass the ID checks, may not want TransUnion to access their healthcare requests and see that they’ve ordered a COVID test over concerns surrounding their personal information being shared and marketed to other companies, as seen recently with the enforcement taken against Experian.

No Credit Record but Need a COVID test?

If you’re a migrant worker or somebody with no credit record and are experiencing symptoms of COVID, then you must self-isolate or contact NHS 111 for further guidance.

If you need support you can head to the NHS Guide for Migrant Workers which have been established to support international migrants. The guidance is available in different languages to suit your needs.

Additionally, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has set up a COVID Migrant Information Service which aims to provide multilingual information surrounding the coronavirus measures and support in the context of the UK guidelines and regulations.

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