FAMILIES face a £94 hit to their household budgets unless Rishi Sunak drops plans to restore VAT on masks back at 20 per cent.
Labour last night accused the Chancellor of slapping Brits with a “mask tax” after the Treasury refused to extend a VAT pause on PPE after the end of October.
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VAT at 20 per cent on masks and other vital equipment like disposable gloves will line their coffers to the tune of £85million a month.
But over the next six months this would cost the average household nearly almost £4 a week.
For a family of four – two adults and two teenagers – using disposable masks, that could mean spending an extra £94 over the next six months, Labour analysis claims.
Mr Sunak had suspended VAT charges on PPE on May 1, and is currently refusing to extend it beyond the end of this month.
Sources say the price of PPE has plummeted now as supply has caught up with the surge in demand, but Labour says it’s unfair as wearing them is compulsory.
A Treasury spokesman said: “Our temporary zero-rate of VAT on PPE was designed to help sectors that cannot recover VAT on such goods due to their VAT exempt status, such as care homes.”
“Health have committed in the Winter Plan to provide free PPE for Covid-19 need to adult social care until March 2021 through their stockpile, ensuring a stable supply of PPE. The temporary zero-rate on PPE is therefore no longer required.”
“The relief was to ensure front line workers got the protection they needed & that remains our priority”
But shadow treasury minister James Murray hit back: “It’s unbelievable that the Government wants to introduce a mask tax in the middle of a pandemic.
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“With Covid cases on the rise across the country, the government should be doing all it can to help people follow its own guidance to wear a mask, not ramping up the cost of buying one.”
The Labour MP added: “Families across the country are already struggling financially as a result of the crisis. The last thing they need is to be penalised for doing the right thing.”
A recent poll by YouGov found three in 10 used disposable masks. A box of 20 single use face masks from Boots costs £12.99.
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