In his autumn statement yesterday Chancellor George Osborne promised a cash boost for search and rescue and air ambulance charities, who from next April will be able to reclaim VAT on the money they spend.
This will for the first time put Britain's volunteer Mountain Rescue Teams on a par with Government agencies such as the Coastguard, who perform a partly similar role.
The refund, expected to be worth millions per year, comes after years of campaigning by charity organisations and their champions. It replaces the previous setup, under which MRTs received a grant to help offset their VAT costs on fuel and equipment - an arrangement that was due to expire soon.
South Lakes MP Tim Farron, who had long campaigned for the VAT refund, said:
'This is fantastic news and will make a massive difference to our vital search and rescue teams.'
'It has always struck me as deeply unfair that an emergency service which saves people’s lives everyday, has to pay tax on the vital equipment that they use – especially when virtually all of their funding comes from charitable donations. That’s why I have been campaigning for so long to stop these teams having to pay VAT. Our Mountain Rescue teams do amazing work for people in desperate need. I cannot praise them highly enough – their determination and bravery are truly inspiring.'
'Today’s announcement would not have been possible without the work of the late Stewart Hulse from Windermere. As a member of Mountain Rescue England and Wales, Stewart helped me gather the evidence to present to Minister to firstly secure the grant funding, and now this refund. I want to pay tribute to him as we celebrate this important victory.'