Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Keep Your Promise Mr Alexander



In this area most people know someone who belongs to the local voluntary Mountain Rescue service, mainly because the Grampians loom in the background.  There's no lack of support for these people either, because they risk their lives very regularly to save the lives of the unfortunate, the ill-prepared and the downright stupid who choose to go out on the mountain at any time of year.  They also respond to many other emergencies off the hill.

There are 12 rescue teams in Scotland who provide a 24 hour service and they are still almost entirely funded by public donations although the Scottish Government provides an annual £200,000 lump sum which is divided among the teams.  They're always strapped for cash, mainly because their equipment is so expensive and requires regular updating.  Fuel costs take a large chunk of their finances too.  But they seldom complain and do the best they can.  In fact the Tayside Mountain Rescue is effectively homeless and operates from temporary accommodation on a rural farm after failing to secure affordable premises.

Prior to last year's general election the LibDems promised the Mountain Rescue service would be given VAT exemption status.  They currently receive a VAT exemption on electrical items but everything else they have to buy is charged at full rate.  Rescue teams across Scotland presently face a combined VAT bill of between £150,000- £200,000 a year on other purchases and this figure is set to rise this week with the increase to the 20% rate.

The Mountain Rescue insist that their service should be free.  Not all agree, but surely such a service should have a VAT exemption certificate.

The SNP think so. Falkirk West SNP MSP Michael Matheson, a member of Ochils Mountain Rescue, has written to Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, calling for the abolition of VAT on mountain rescue services.  Prior to reaching the dizzy heights of the cabinet, Mr Alexander was the PR man (head of communications) for the Cairngorms National Park Authority so he should understand a thing or two about the operation of this value service.  Will he keep the LibDems promise to withdraw VAT contributions?  I'm not rushing to the bookies.

source

10 comments:

Rate of Dissent said...

No matter how hard I try, when I see the phrase "mountain rescue", I can't not (double negative) think of Cliffhanger starring Stalone.

Dramfineday said...

"Will he keep the LibDems promise to withdraw VAT contributions? I'm not rushing to the bookies." And neither will I.

Oldrightie said...

A promise made by ANY politician today is a euphemism for doing as The EU tell you. VAT harmonisation is moving relentlessly on and will be set centrally within five years from now.

Oldrightie said...

Sorry, I forgot the link. "The resources (revenue) and expenditure of the EU are governed by two separate agreements; the revenue side is covered by the Own Resources Decision (ORD). This sets out how Member States contribute towards the EU budget through customs, sugar and agricultural duties, VAT-based contributions and Gross National Income-based contributions. It also sets out how the UK abatement is calculated. A new ORD was formally agreed at a European level on 7 June 2007."

http://www.stuartagnewmep.co.uk/stuartagnew/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=529&Itemid=32

It is almost complete, now that our taxes go direct to Europe! Note Osborne's treacherous comments this morning.

subrosa said...

Well it's no wonder Rate of Dissent because it was a wonderful/terrifying film. I don't know how much of it I watched threw my fingers.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Can we have an accurate headline please.

Coalition Government increase tax by over 14% rise.

subrosa said...

No Dram, not only would it be a waste of money but a waste of petrol/shoe leather.

subrosa said...

Yes, on and on go the unelected OR. Many thanks for that link. Most informative.

I didn't hear Osborne's comments this morning but I'm off to find them.

Insisting on a voluntary service such as this paying VAT is the thin edge of the wedge. I wonder if they could become a charity?

JRB said...

In Scotland, the responsibility for mountain rescue lies with the police.
The police do not have the manpower or expertise to carry out such duties, consequently they have devolved the duties to civilian teams.

To the best of my knowledge, all mountain rescue teams are registered charities. The Mountain Rescue Service in Scotland depends entirely on public donation and specific contributions from the police and Scottish Government.

That, however, does not exempt them from VAT.
Other emergency services like Ambulance service and RNLI have specific VAT exemptions.
It is long past time that the Mountain Rescue Service had a similar specific VAT exemption.

In their election manifesto, the Liberal party promised to –
“Refund VAT to mountain rescue services”

Danny Alexander, MP for Inverness, and now Government Chief Secretary was quite specific in his comments just days before the election -
“It isn’t possible to put a price on the work mountain rescue teams do in the Cairngorms and all over the Highlands – not to mention the whole UK. The expertise and local knowledge which is given freely by volunteers could not be replaced.

It has never been right that a vital service which relies on donations from the public and extraordinary commitment from volunteers gets hit by the Government for a sizeable tax payment.

Whatever the result on Thursday, I hope this is a policy which will be put into action.”


The time has come for D Alexander MP to put his fine words into action.

subrosa said...

Afternoon John.I think you should have written this post. :) Your comment is excellent.

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