Politicians pledge action to try to end tax on mountain rescue equipment (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Politicians pledge action to try to end tax on mountain rescue equipment
KENDAL Mountain Rescue volunteers have enlisted the help of politicians in the fight for a ‘fair deal’ over tax paid on vital equipment.
The team pays 20 per cent VAT on items including personal protection equipment, climbing gear, pagers and drugs.
But now Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale and vice chair of the Parliamentary Group on Mountain Rescue, and Chris Davies MEP, have promised to take action following a tour of the team’s headquarters.
Mr Farron was a key player in a government decision to dish out an annual £200,000 tax refund grant to mountain rescue teams nationwide.
Kendal receives £2,500 from the kitty – but volunteers are concerned that this does not cover the full yearly tax bill.
Stewart Hulse, honorary member of the team and long-term campaigner for VAT exemptions, said: “Loss of VAT revenues to the treasury would be minimal and un-noticed but any exemptions for us would have a significant impact on our funding.
“If the Government had to run the mountain services across the country it would cost millions. We offer it on a volunteer basis but are getting a raw deal.
“They are taking money right out of public donation boxes. They’ve been taking from us for years and not giving anything back – now it’s time to change.”
Kendal Mountain Rescue Team receives an average of 50 call-outs a year with half of them non-mountain related.
Mr Farron believes that rescue teams should receive a VAT exemption from the EU in line with that received by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
“Our mountain rescue teams are real heroes and do wonderful work for people in need,” he said.
“They are there in any emergency, from the floods to helping someone off the fells. I will do everything I can to fight for a fair deal for them.
“The government tells me they want to do more to support rescue teams but they need to change EU rules.”
Chris Davies MEP also promised to take the fight to Brussels, saying: “As a fell runner I depend on the mountain rescue service for help if I get in trouble.
“The mountain rescuers are inspiring and I am happy to play my part to try to help make their funding stretch further.”