Taxation: People with Disabilities

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons on 10th February 2021.

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Photo of Lia Nici Lia Nici Conservative, Great Grimsby

What recent discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on ensuring that the taxation system does not discriminate against people with disabilities.

Photo of Kemi Badenoch Kemi Badenoch The Exchequer Secretary, Minister for Equalities

The Government recognise it is important that the tax system treats people fairly and consistently, while also raising revenue for public services. We provide tax-free welfare benefits for those who have extra costs associated with their disability, including disability living allowance, personal independence payment and attendance allowance. We have also made available several VAT zero rates for the purchase of certain equipment and appliances designed solely for use by a disabled person, such as the VAT zero rate for the leasing of vehicles through the Motability scheme.

Photo of Lia Nici Lia Nici Conservative, Great Grimsby

I am grateful for the Minister’s reply. I have been contacted by a constituent who is visually impaired and needs expensive corrective glasses annually, on which she has to pay VAT. Does the Minister agree that it is not fair that the greater a person’s sight disability, the greater the tax they pay? Will she agree to discuss with the Treasury that, as glasses are an essential item for my constituent, they should not be taxed as a luxury?

Photo of Kemi Badenoch Kemi Badenoch The Exchequer Secretary, Minister for Equalities

My hon. Friend raises an important point. The Government ensure that the supply of health and welfare services, including opticians and eye tests, are exempt from VAT, which ensures that VAT is not a barrier to accessing medical treatment. Moreover, in addition to NHS complex lens vouchers, the Government already offer support for individuals to help with the cost of glasses through NHS optical vouchers. Those eligible for help include children and those on certain income-related benefits, and the value varies from £39 to £215 depending on the level of the patient’s prescription. However, I will write to my hon. Friend with full details so that she can assist her constituent.