Brits could be allowed to take their free NHS Covid tests on holiday in order to reduce the price of going on holiday this year, Grant Shapps has suggested.

The Tory Transport Secretary said he hoped that in the future, families would be allowed to use rapid 'lateral flow' tests before boarding a flight.

He said when international travel initially returns, only the more expensive - but more accurate - PCR tests are likely to be accepted.

But he said he was looking at ways to reduce the cost of such tests to make them more affordable to families desperate for a getaway.

Speaking at an online event hosted by ConservativeHome, Mr Shapps said: "Look, for the time being the PCR test gets us closer to the truth about somebody's Coronavirus and for the time being that's the one that's going to be required."

But he added: "I want to see a properly competitive market, driving down the costs of these tests."

A family of four face costs of as much as £600 for at least two tests each way, even for a holiday in a "low risk" destination.

Mr Shapps added: "Some of the higher test costs ...turn out to be for full service where people come out to your home to carry out the test.

"I'm going to separate those out, we're going to drive down the cost of tests."

Grant Shapps says he wants to "drive down" the cost of holiday testing
Grant Shapps says he wants to "drive down" the cost of holiday testing

He said one test provider had already cut their price to £60 a test, and another was undergoing accreditation and would offer PCR tests for as little as £45.

He added that in future he was looking at "people actually taking the lateral flow tests, potentially, that they already have access to from home. A sort of Covid version of 'bring your own bottle' when you go on holiday."

But the Transport Secretary wouldn't be drawn on which countries will be on the first list of 'low risk' countries that will be open to British holiday makers.

He said: "I can't put the cart before the horse. I need to see which countries, closer to the earliest possible update to international travel, which is May 17, are in what position."

And he said the first list would not be "set in stone and forever."

"I've set out three specific review dates," he said. "Which are end of June, end of July and October."

Mr Shapps also warned that even if the United States is on the 'low risk' list, the country still has a ban in place on people from Europe entering the country.