Britain scraps sales tax on personal protective equipment

FILE PHOTO: A medical worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) at the back of an ambulance outside Lewisham hospital as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, April 20, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will temporarily scrap sales tax on purchases of essential personal protective equipment, the finance ministry said on Thursday, seeking to ease the finances of care homes, businesses and charities during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Treasury said the cut would save more than 100 million pounds ($125.44 million)for those buying equipment such as face masks and surgical gloves.

Such items were previously subject to a 20% Value Added Tax which could not always be reclaimed by some care providers. The tax cut will come into effect on Friday and last three months, the finance ministry said.

Although the government has committed to give hospitals within its state-run National Health Service whatever funding they need to fight the coronavirus, Britain’s care system is more reliant on private providers.

The spread of the coronavirus in private care homes is a major cause of concern for the government, and an emerging front in the battle to limit the COVID-19 death toll.

Reporting by William James, editing by Estelle Shirbon

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