Across the UK, many of our firefighters are now working closely with NHS ambulance trusts to help drive ambulances, deliver essential medical equipment and support paramedics and clinicians providing care. As part of these arrangements, NHS ambulance trusts pay fire authorities to cover the cost and time of the fire staff. Because of the nature of the tax, fire authorities would normally be expected to charge VAT to the NHS resulting in a very unfair tax consequence for our embattled authorities.
RSM has brought this issue to HMRC’s attention, providing them with a technical comparison to existing emergency co-responder arrangements (ie responding to 999 calls) which are not subject to VAT. HMRC agreed that the coronavirus situation could be categorised as fire authorities responding to an emergency and any funds received from the NHS for supporting with the coronavirus pandemic does not represent a payment for services.
To HMRC’s great credit, it understood the need to minimise tax costs on our authorities in these difficult times and replied positively in less than 24 hours. From our perspective, it is great to see common sense prevail and that RSM could play its small part.
For any further information on this relief, please contact Scott Harwood.