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Wednesday, 04 March 2015

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3,000 demand change in tax for mountain rescue teams

Renewed calls have been made for Cumbrian mountain rescue teams to be exempt from VAT.

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A 3,000 strong petition has been handed to the European Commissioner in charge of taxation.

The UK Government agreed in 2011 to offer the VAT rebate, after a campaign by an all party parliamentary group, but the agreement is due to finish later this year.

The European Commission is currently consulting on changes to VAT law.

Cumbria’s Euro MEP Chris Davies presented the petition which calls on search and rescue teams to get the exemption, which would save them up to 20 per cent in running costs.

Estimates suggest that it costs around £500,000 to run the teams that operate in the Lake District each year and they rely mainly on donations and receive minimal central funding.

Richard Warren, chairman of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Teams, said that local teams were backing any moves to extend the rebate.

“The teams rely very heavily on local support and donations from those they rescue and the grant provided by the government is helpful but is small compared to the running costs,” he said.

Mr Warren added that teams were also asking for the grant to be more equally spread, as rescuers in Scotland received more than in England and Wales.

Mr Davies said mountain rescue teams across Cumbria provided a vital service. “EU law already excludes our lifeboats from having to pay VAT,” he said. “What is good enough for those who provide rescues at sea should also be good enough for rescues in our hills.

“They are providing a vital public service, one that allows millions of people to better enjoy our wild spaces and supports many jobs in the tourist industry.”


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