Calls to spare VAT on fuel for air lifesavers

Calls have been made to the Government to return the VAT paid on fuel for the county’s air ambulance service.

VAT on fuel costs the Air Ambulance Service – which includes the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance – hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.

But the WNAA does not receive any funding from the Government or the National Lottery and runs entirely on donations.

An online petition has been launched which calls on the Government to return all the future VAT the Treasury collects from air ambulance services such as the WNAA in grants, so the lifesaving services are in practice exempt from paying VAT in the same way as the Lifeboat Service is.

More than 137,000 people have signed the petition so far, including Peter Head from Rushden.

Mr Head said: “You could argue why doesn’t the Government pay something towards the air ambulance in any case?

“I heard it costs £1.8m year to run the air ambulance, which is all donations.”

Andy Williamson, chief executive of the Air Ambulance Service, said the organisation was grateful for the support it received.

He said: “It is a very difficult time for all emergency services and the increasing financial burden of rising fuel costs.

“I think it would be proper to try and apply this exemption to all emergency services, not just the Air Ambulance Service.”

Mr Williamson said although he understood the economic situation, getting a return on VAT on fuel would be a great help.

He said: “Last year our fuel costs alone was more than £400,000 so the difference five per cent can make to us is considerable.”

East Midlands UKIP MEP Derek Clark is also backing the campaign.

He said: “The service is a life-saver – it is vitally important and is a magnificent, volunteer-funded service.”