Pressing Treasury Minister further on VAT on fuel for Air Ambulance Services
In response to the recent debate in the House of Commons in which I called on the Government to refund to Air Ambulance services the VAT which they pay on fuel, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban MP, said that the Department of Health is currently undertaking two reviews which might impact on air ambulance services. One is looking into the capability and funding of emergency medical care of the type provided by the London air ambulance service, and the other is looking at the tax position of health care charities. The Minister said that his officials would engage with the Department of Health on the reviews, and that if these reviews do not fully cover air ambulances the Treasury would conduct its own, separate review.
Following the debate, I tabled a Parliamentary question to the Department of Health on 16 July to ask whether the Secretary of State’s review of the position of charities providing NHS services will consider the tax position of air ambulance services; and when he expects the review to report. The Health Minister, Simon Burns, answered as follows:
“Section 8 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 places a requirement on the Secretary of State for Health to undertake a statutory review of matters that may be constraining the ability of different organisations to provide NHS services. On seeking advice the Secretary of State for Health commissioned Monitor to undertake the review on his behalf.
The review will be broad in scope and be open to looking at any issues raised, and cover all types sizes of providers.
Monitor launched the review on 14 June with a call for evidence to inform the scope. To ensure the impartiality of the review it would not be appropriate to make commitments as to what is included in the review as this will be a matter for Monitor based on the evidence gathered and engagement held with the sector.
The Health and Social Care Act 2012 requires the Secretary of State to lay a report before Parliament on or before the 31 March 2013.”
In view of the inability of the Department of Health to commit to considering VAT on air ambulance fuel payments, I have written to Mark Hoban to ask him whether the Treasury would now commit to carrying out the review required by the motion that was voted through with cross party support in the House of Commons on Wednesday 11th July. My letter can be read here.
The Treasury Minister responded constructively to our cross party bid for additional help for air ambulance services. However, now that the Health Minister has said he can’t give a commitment to considering VAT on air ambulance fuel payments as part of his review, I hope the Treasury will now confirm that it will carry out the review required by the motion which the House of Commons passed a fortnight ago.
Unlike other health charities Air Ambulance services provide emergency rescue services. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution already get VAT-free fuel, and it would be a small gesture for the Government to agree to air ambulances.