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VAT relief triumph for West Berks charity

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A LIFESAVING West Berkshire charity will now benefit from VAT relief on new vehicles following last week’s Budget.

For the West Berkshire Rapid Response Car (WBRRC) charity, based at Newbury ambulance station, it means that up to £4,000 will be saved each time a new car is purchased.

This money can then be spent modifying the vehicle so that it is suitable for emergency paramedic use, or could go towards the purchase of another car.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, the Chancellor George Osborne said the Government would finally be making grants available to charities that provide rapid response vehicles for medical purposes.

The charity, which receives no funding from the NHS and, up until now, hadn’t received any from the Government either, works to support the emergency services in West Berkshire and the surrounding areas. Since it launched in 2004, it has attended more than 3,000 incidents.

The charity has been campaigning for VAT relief for more than three years.

Each WBRRC is driven by a fully-qualified paramedic or medical technician volunteer, who give up their own time.

The Liberal Democrat’s prospective parliamentary candidate for West Berkshire, Judith Bunting, welcomed the announcement.

Last year, HM Revenue and Customs said vehicles could only qualify for zero VAT if they had “permanently-fitted ambulance signs to the front and both sides, adequate door space for loading a stretcher, seating to the rear of the driver for at least one attendant and the ability to hold one or more stretchers measuring at least 1.95m which can be permanently secured during transport”.

Ms Bunting had lobbied Government officials including the chief secretary to the treasury, Danny Alexander, and the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman in the House of Lords, Lord Dick Newby.

Ms Bunting also had the support of fellow Liberal Democrat and Westomreland MP, Tim Faloln, who recently pledged his support to the campaign.

Ms Bunting said: “I have been delighted to support such an excellent charity.

“The West Berkshire Rapid Response Cars is a vital service for our area. Its drivers and trustees do an amazing job.

“I understand the grant is meant to help compensate rapid response car charities for the VAT they pay on their cars and medical equipment.

“I’m looking forward to discussing the size of the grant with Treasury officers as soon as possible.”

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