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Splat the VAT on sunscreen to help save lives

This news post is almost 3 years old

It should be reclassified as an essential item, says charity

Scotland’s only skin cancer-specific charity has given its backing to a Scottish MP’s efforts to push the UK government to remove VAT on sun products.

Melanoma Action and Support Scotland (MASScot) has written to SNP MP Patricia Gibson offering its support to her petition at Westminster.

The petition states that sunscreen should be reclassified as an essential healthcare item and be exempted from VAT and that sunscreen is currently classified as a cosmetic product in the UK and is therefore subject to 20% VAT.

Every year, around 13,000 Scots develop skin cancer with more than 1,200 of whom getting the most serious, melanoma. Despite suncreams reducing the risk of melanoma, they are not classified as essential products and have VAT added to them, pushing the price beyond the poverty line.

Formed in 2003, MASScot provides support to people who have been diagnosed with Melanoma and other skin cancers. One of the charity’s founding aims was to have VAT removed from sunscreen.

Leigh Smith MBE, MASScot Chair, said: “When we started it was one of our aims to get VAT off sunscreen. It could save people’s lives.

“Skin cancer costs the NHS a huge amount of money and the one of the things that can prevent it is sunscreen. You have to weigh up the cost of losing the VAT against the cost of treatment of skin cancer.

“Recently, Tesco reduced the cost of its own brand sunscreen products by 20% in order to absorb the cost of VAT. That followed the publication of their own research showing 57% of UK adults said they think sun protection is expensive, with 29% stating they would wear sun protection daily if it was more affordable.

“With nine in 10 melanoma cases being preventable, any step to make it easier, and more affordable, to access sunscreen would make a significant difference when it comes to prevention, and are to be welcomed.”