Uniform VAT Cut Unlikely

Schools Standards Minister Nick Gibb has told MPs that EU law currently prevents the Government from cutting VAT on all school uniforms.  In theory this could  change when the UK leaves the EU.

Mr Gibb was responding to a call from MP Frank Field, who said that some of his Birkenhead constituents were going short of food to pay for uniforms and “the devastating cost of games kits”.

Currently under EU law, there is generally a VAT relief for clothing sized for children under the age of 14. Where clothing is larger than the set size guidelines VAT is charged at the standard rate of 20 per cent.

However, as Mr Field pointed out, 14 is an “arbitrary cut-off point” and the size guidelines are not necessarily appropriate for all school children. He gave the example of the son of one of his constituents who at 14 is 6ft 4in, with size 12 feet and a 48in chest and is therefore forced to buy clothes including school uniform which is subject to VAT at the 20% rate.

The MP, who campaigned for the UK to leave the EU, said that the Government must act to require schools to limit the cost of uniforms and ensure they use “standard suppliers”. He also insisted that there is no reason not to legislate on this just because Brexit is imminent.

In response, Mr Gibb said that the Government is planning to put its existing guidelines to schools into law to ensure that uniform costs are reasonable. He also suggested that VAT could be axed on all uniforms once the UK leaves the EU. However, the general feeling is that the VAT rules in respect of school uniforms are unlikely to change because of Brexit.

Julian Borley, Director of VAT at Milsted Langdon, said: “Businesses should look out for any changes to the VAT rules caused by Brexit.  Businesses should, as always, seek specialist advice if they need help with VAT matters.”

For more information about how Milsted Langdon can help, please contact Julian by emailing jborley@milstedlangdon.co.uk or calling 0117 945 2500.

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