Thank you for contacting me about VAT on sunscreen.
VAT is a broad-based tax on consumption with the twenty per cent standard rate applying to most goods and services, including sun protection products.
High-factor sunscreen is on the NHS prescription list for certain conditions and is already provided VAT free when dispensed by a pharmacist to these patients.
The Government's approach is to support safety campaigns that ensure that sunscreen is placed within its proper context; as one of the precautions that people can take against the harmful rays of the sun, but one that does not provide 100% protection. Advice from leading cancer charities recommends a range of steps people can take for protection, which includes avoiding long periods of exposure, staying in the shade at peak hours, and protecting themselves with a hat and sunglasses.
Although it may be possible to legislate for a VAT relief on sunscreen products, expanding the scope of current VAT reliefs would come at a considerable cost to the Exchequer. This request must be viewed in the context of almost £50 billion of requests for relief from VAT received since the EU referendum, and such costs would have to be balanced by increased taxes elsewhere, or reductions in Government spending. Therefore, while all taxes are kept under review, there are currently no plans to reduce or remove VAT on sunscreen products.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP