MPs, housing association bosses and celebrities today launched a campaign to make Britain’s homes safer.
The Axe Safety Tax initiative to abolish VAT on all safety products and services that go into UK homes was unveiled at a House of Commons breakfast event.
The Government is being urged to scrap the 20% tax on a range of products including fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, gas safety checks, fire doors and fire extinguishers.
Mike Amesbury, MP for Weaver Vale & Member of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, said it was vital landlords supported the “lifesaving” initiative.
He said: “We are all aware of the tragic consequences of fires in housing blocks. We need to work together to improve safety and reduce fire risk. It is important we look at all options to make our homes safer.”
Other supporters of the Axe Safety Tax campaign include Emma Dent Coad, the MP for Kensington, whose constituency includes Grenfell Tower.
She said: “It is a total disgrace that safety products are taxed as if they are luxury items. VAT must be reduced so that everyone can afford to buy them and be safe in their homes. It’s a no-brainer.”
Celebrities including former England footballers Jamie Carragher and Robbie Fowler, the musician Midge Ure and TV personality Paddy McGuinness have also put their names to the initiative.
The gas safety technology company, Gas Tag, is behind the campaign. The Liverpool-based company’s CEO Paul Durose said: “Abolishing VAT on safety products would allow housing associations to accelerate the investment they are making in health and safety.
“Raising money in taxation from making homes safer is shameful and not a reflection of the compassionate society in which we live.”
Several leading housing associations are also backing the campaign. The VAT raised annually on safety products and inspections across the social housing sector is in excess of £200million.
Tom Dacey, Group Chief Executive at Southern Housing Group, said “The fact that safety is taxed at the maximum rate is unjustifiable. We’re backing the Axe Safety Tax campaign and we’re asking other housing associations and councils to give their backing and support it too.”
The launch was also attended by Mike Cunningham, Deputy Director, VAT & Excise, who invited campaigners to take part in further discussions over the coming weeks.