Rishi Sunak rejects call to ditch VAT on purchases of defibrillators

The chancellor had been urged to extend a VAT exemption to those purchasing a defibrillator.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak rejects call to ditch VAT on purchases of life-saving defibrillators IStock

Rishi Sunak has rejected calls to ditch VAT on purchases of life-saving defibrillators.

Charities and local authorities are currently able to claim a VAT exemption when purchasing a device.

But, the chancellor has been urged to extend the exemption to anyone buying the equipment.

A letter was sent to Sunak by SNP MSP Jenni Minto in an attempt to have the tax removed.

It was signed by politicians from across the political spectrum, who set out the importance of defibrillators.

However, Sunak indicated that it would not be possible to expand the current relief due to the additional pressure it would bring on public finances.

Although in a letter sent in response, he assured Minto that all taxes are kept under “constant review” by the UK Government.

“Expanding this current relief already available would impose additional pressure on the public finances, to which VAT makes a significant contribution,” Sunak wrote.

“VAT raised around £130bn in 2019/20, and helps to fund key spending priorities.

“As you will know, any reduction in tax paid is a reduction in the money available to support important public services, including the NHS and policing.

“In addition, this request should be viewed in the context of over £50 billion of requests for relief from VAT received since the EU referendum.

“Such costs would have to be balanced by increased taxes elsewhere, increased borrowing or reductions in Government spending.

“Given this there are no plans to change the current VAT treatment on defibrillators, however, the Government keeps all taxes under constant review.

Sunak added: “I would like to thank you for taking the time to write to us expressing your concerns, I can assure you these have been noted.”

Minto said that she would continue to push Sunak to consider exempting defibrillators from VAT charges.

“It is extremely disappointing that the chancellor has chosen to rule out scrapping VAT on life-saving defibrillators,” she said.

“It would appear Rishi Sunak does not have saving lives as a top priority.

“Scrapping VAT on defibs would have made them cheaper to purchase by community groups or businesses and would have been vital in saving lives.

“I will continue to push the chancellor to consider exempting defibrillators from VAT charges and hope he listens to myself and the 50 MSPs from across all parties at Holyrood who urged him to take action.”

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