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Chancellor’s Autumn Statement – VAT refund for Search And Rescue charities

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement presented on Wednesday 3rd December contained the following item:

“2.80 VAT refunds for search and rescue and air ambulance charities – From April 2015, UK search and rescue and air ambulance charities will be eligible to claim refunds on VAT they have paid on purchases of goods and services for their non-business activities. (Finance Bill 2015) (29)”

NEWSAR welcomes this announcement, but we await further information on how this will practically affect our finances and administration.

Below are some statements from other Mountain and Cave Rescue bodies


Phil Benbow, Chairman of North Wales Mountain Rescue Association

In response to the Chancellor’s announcement regarding a VAT refund on purchases made by volunteer rescue teams, Phil Benbow, Chairman of the North Wales Mountain Rescue Association, said:

“It is good news that central government is recognising the valuable work done by the volunteer rescue services, including Mountain Rescue in North Wales.  The issue of financial support has been under discussion for a long time and various options have been considered.  This latest announcement by the Chancellor looks encouraging but we’ve still to see the details of the proposed scheme and evaluate the impact of the anticipated additional administration that may well be involved on our already busy volunteers”.

“Whilst any financial contribution to the running of Mountain Rescue teams in North Wales is always welcome, especially at a time when other sources of funding are being cut, we await with interest the details of the scheme from the Treasury”.


Mountain Rescue England and Wales (MREW) and the British Cave Rescue Council (BCRC) are both delighted and grateful following the Chancellor’s statement today.  From April 2015, search and rescue charities will be able to claim refunds on VAT.

Bill Whitehouse of BCRC has been involved in the discussions that have led to today’s announcement: ‘This should mean that money donated by the public to provide our essential services can be used in full for the purpose it was intended without a proportion being lost in VAT payments. The change will mean that we will be treated similarly for VAT as the emergency services we work alongside such as the police and fire and rescue service.’

Mike France, Chairman of MREW, said: ‘It is great to have the recognition in central government of the valuable work done by volunteer rescue services and also of the generosity of our many supporters.’

‘This issue of financial support has been under discussion for a long time and there have been various options and mechanisms in place – the latest announcement looks encouraging but we’ve still to see the details of how much admin will be needed from our already stretched volunteers and also how we can ensure that this refund and other support from central government has a positive impact for all the 50+ teams across England and Wales.’

Both MREW and BCRC have worked closely with the RNLI, the UK Search and Rescue Volunteers Working Group and the Charity Tax Group to achieve this result.  It will benefit all charities that carry out search and rescue operations and, therefore, all the people they assist.



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