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Help stop VAT on Air Ambulance Fuel bills

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Last summer when I was at the Vosa Rejects Rally (Put on by the Yorkshire Trikers club) in aid of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance charity, I was talking with one of the YAA fund raisers and he told me that all 18 air ambulances have to pay VAT on their fuel bills unlike the RNLI who get an exemption.

I was amazed that this was the case - one essential charity was charged 17.5% (now 20%) on their fuel bill and another is not. Here is a charity that is giving an essential free service and they have to pay vat on their fuel bills - the biggest cost to them after buying the helicopter!

What does this mean to the general public?

If you fund raise for the Air Ambulance charities a 5th of what you get will be given to the government, however if you fund raise for the RNLI they can use all your contributions for helping to save lives. The exemption was given to the RNLI in 1977 when we entered the Common Market as it was then and very few, if any, Air Ambulance charities were around at that time.

I started to research the issue on the internet and I contacted several Air Ambulance Charities, but it did not get picked up. I think because it had been tried before and would require a change in the VAT rules as these are governed by the EU. That means loads and loads of bureaucracy and it would also require all member states to agree an exemption. A lot of the EU countries fund their Air Ambulance services through governments and so would not be interested.

I had a few e-mails from my MEP and she suggested that as finance budgets at the time were being debated in Brussels I should try and get the government to request the exemption for Air Ambulance charities. At this time the Euro was falling through the floor and my letter to the treasury fell on deaf ears.

I had asked my MP for help, as whilst researching this issue I had seen a question to the Prime Minister (video on youtube, May 2011) that said basically there was nothing we could do as it was up to the EU. I thought if we have to take vat from these charities because the EU says we have to, what is stopping us giving these charities a grant to the same amount? It is our governments money (well ours actually) and if we want to give them a grant for the fantastic job they are doing why don’t we?

I contacted my MP and suggested this to him and asked him to table an Early Day Motion EDM 2709 and after another few weeks he said he would (Christmas intervened). The EDM was tabled on the 9th and on the 10th February 2012. It had been signed by 14 MP’s from across all parties. I had suggested that I would open a government E-Petition.  This went live on Friday 10/02/2012 http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/29349 and at just after midnight there was over 1,000 signatures. At the time of this article 5,311.

We need to get 100,000 signatures and then the government will make time for a full debate on the issue and hopefully common sense will prevail and something will be done to change this ridiculous situation.

Ken Sharpe

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