BARNSLEY groups embarking on fundraising missions to install defibrillators across the borough are effectively ‘paying VAT to save lives’ - sparking a local MP to set up a campaign to abolish the requirement.

John Healey, who represents Wentworth and Dearne, has launched a national campaign to put a stop to VAT being charged on the sale of defibrillators.

He recently met with Wath-based defibrillator distributor, Martek Lifecare, and the British Healthcare Trades Association about the issue.

John said: “It’s great that defibrillators are becoming more readily available to help people in an emergency, but local organisations and charities are facing an extra cost when they look to purchase a unit for their community.

“The majority of defibrillators bought by these groups face a 20 per cent VAT charge on top of the units they buy - that’s around an extra £200 each time.

“This is a tax on saving lives - defibrillators bought for use by community groups, charities and sports clubs should be exempt from VAT.

“This will make them more affordable and help to save more lives across the country.”

A defibrillator - a device that gives a high-energy electric shock to the heart - has become an essential part in trying to save lives of someone who is in cardiac arrest.

David Stockdale, chief executive at British Healthcare Trades Association, added: “The government does have a VAT relief scheme on purchases made by local authorities and those made through voluntary contributions which are donated to eligible charities or the NHS , but this doesn’t include charities, sports clubs and other organisations purchasing their own defibrillator.

“Defibrillators are a vital piece of equipment, but many groups are struggling to raise the funds they need to purchase one.

“We need to see VAT relief extended further to help these groups and make the cost of life saving equipment more affordable.”

Early defibrillation with a patient in cardiac arrest greatly improves survival rates, with figures from the British Heart Foundation showing there are currently over 30,000 cases of out-of-hospital suspected cardiac arrests every year with fewer than one in ten people surviving.( Martek Lifecare’s Rob Higgie said: “When someone has a cardiac arrest, every second counts.

“Making defibrillators more affordable by removing VAT will mean they are more readily available in the community and ready to use when needed.

“The simple fact is that if more defibrillators are available then more lives can be saved.”

The waiving of VAT on defibrillators - which has also been backed by Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis - would come at a cost to the government, according to Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer.

She added: “The government already maintains VAT reliefs to aid the purchase of automated external defibrillators (AEDs), including VAT relief on purchases made by local authorities and those made through voluntary contributions, where the AED is donated to eligible charities or the NHS.

“Otherwise, they attract the standard rate of VAT.

“Any new VAT relief would come at a cost to the exchequer and the government has received over £50bn worth of requests for relief from VAT since the EU referendum.

“The government keeps all taxes under review.”