The VAT system in Britain is very complicated. It’s not simply a case of the 20% rate which is applied to most transactions, but there are a number of reduced rates on certain goods. Children’s clothes, for example, carry no VAT and are thus much cheaper for families to buy. That’s all well and good, you might think, but certain necessities and life-saving safety products such as children’s car seats still incur a 5% VAT charge.
Halfords has been petitioning against the VAT charge on children’s car seats recently, in order to ensure that families on a tight budget are able to ensure they can keep their children safe in the car without having to worry too much about the money aspect. In order to put pressure on the government, Halfords has imposed a 5% discount on all children’s car seats, effectively giving their customers the benefit of a 0% VAT rate before it’s even taken place.
The company hopes that this will put pressure on the government to lower the VAT rate of children’s car seats and other crucial safety equipment to 0%, so that families on low incomes no longer have to balance the safety of their child with the comparatively inconsequential worry of money. In times of austerity, this is particularly important as more and more families have to tighten their belts and consider every penny of their spending.
At the time of writing, the petition, which required 1,500 signatures, had already broken that barrier and was well on the way to 1,700 signatures, signalling that many people in Britain could sympathise with the unjust levy of VAT on crucial child safety equipment. The hope is that the government will take notice of public opinion and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will announce a 0% VAT rating for child car seats in the next Budget in the spring. Before that happens, though, it is likely that the topic will need to be raised in Parliament by a sympathetic MP in order to gather parliamentary support for the proposal.
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Image by Cschirp. Reproduced under Creative Commons licence. For more information about Creative Commons and for links to the various licences, see my Disclosure page (link above).