Lochhead calls for a budget day halt to emergency services VAT charges

Scots fire and police services are charged VAT

UK CHANCELLOR PHILLIP HAMMOND is being called upon to halt the situation where police and fire services in Scotland are charged VAT.

Mr Hammond will announce his Budget today – and Moray’s MSP, Richard Lochhead, has said he hopes that will see an end to the situation whereby the two emergency services have had to pay out £140million since 2013.

The Moray MSP joined a chorus of SNP MPs and MSPs who have asked the UK Government to cease this charge and give Scotland’s emergency services more money to spend on protecting people.

Mr Lochhead revealed that he had received a response from Mel Stride MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, saying that the UK Government are “examining” his call and that his “suggestions have been noted”.

Commenting Mr Lochhead said: “Since 2013 the Tories have deprived police and fire services in Scotland of £140 million. The budget tomorrow gives the Tory Chancellor the perfect opportunity to right the wrong and cancel the VAT charge on Scotland’s police and fire services.

“Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue are the only emergency services in the UK that are required to pay VAT. This is completely unfair but, more importantly, it means that Moray’s emergency services have less money to put in to local, front-line services. This is something the UK Government can fix by allowing these services to recover the £35million annual VAT bill.

“I welcome that the UK Treasury have said they are examining the suggestions I, and my SNP colleagues throughout the country, have been making but the proof will be in the pudding tomorrow.

“I sincerely hope that the Chancellor uses the budget to act on SNP calls to refund the £140million and to cancel VAT on Scotland’s emergency services.”