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Frome resident calls for tax scrap on vet bills

A FROME resident is leading a campaign to scrap tax on all veterinary services and prescriptions for domestic pets and smallholding animals.

The campaign, started by Annabel Claridge who has had pets for 35 years, has gained the support of nearly 60,000 people.

“At the moment the 20% tax is automatically added to all bills and prescriptions,” says Annabel. “It can be reclaimed only if the animal’s owner is VAT registered and only for certain working animals and those reared for food. That excludes all domestic pets and smallholders’ stock.

“It’s surprising how many people don’t realise they’re paying this VAT and it’s a big hike. Purchase Tax was originally levied according to an item’s perceived luxury. Now it’s VAT (introduced in 1973, when the UK was joining  the Common Market) and pretty much a flat rate on everything not deemed a necessity. But pets are a necessity to many, as was proved during lockdown.

“I have friends who would not have got through those weeks in 2020, had it not been for their animals. Our pets are family, sometimes our only family. They bring comfort, calm and companionship, especially to those who have health issues, live alone, are elderly. By removing the VAT, we can alleviate a big chunk of the financial and emotional strain faced by vulnerable individuals whose unwell pets are such a worry to them.”

The petition is not just about pets, as Annabel says most small-scale farmers are not registered for VAT. “These are the people saving our rare and native breeds,” explains Annabel, “They should be supported, not clobbered 20% every time they see a vet. The same thing’s happening with rescue centres. They’re all overflowing, partly because dog walking was one of the few things allowed during lockdown. Naturally enough, everyone suddenly wanted a dog, but many didn’t consider the long-term cost and responsibility.

“The puppy farms flourished and now the smaller rescues are paying VAT on vet treatment for surrendered or abandoned animals, some of which are badly bred and very sick. This petition is not about vets or politics. It’s about a tax on pet and livestock ownership which I consider to be unjust at best and often inhumane.

“If you agree, please sign the petition and share it in any way you can – through social media, school, work, clubs – anything you can think of, even if it’s not directly animal-related. We all know someone whose animals are not a luxury, but a necessity.”

Petition – www.change.org/novatonvetbills