Rennie to call for police and fire services to keep £35m VAT a year

Willie Rennie

The Scottish LibDems will today launch their election manifesto with a call to let Scotland’s police and fire services keep the £35m they lose each year to the Treasury in VAT.

Leader Willie Rennie will say the “anomaly” can no longer be justified.

Police and fire services in the rest of the UK can reclaim VAT because they are funded through local authorities.

However, as centrally-funded national services, Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service cannot recover the tax and have lost £140m since their creation in 2013.

SNP ministers were warned before centralisation that VAT bills would follow, but said they hoped to persuade the Treasury to make an exception – it didn’t.

Nicola Sturgeon also demanded the return of the VAT at the launch of the SNP manifesto.

Mr Rennie will say LibDems MPs in government would ensure the financial designation of the services was changed to allow them to reclaim VAT in future.

Mr Rennie will also pledge to invest in mental health and education through a “modest penny” on income tax, and underline his party’s opposition to a second independence referendum.

He said: “We will protect jobs in Scotland by opposing an extreme Conservative Brexit and giving people the right to reject a bad deal. “We will keep the triple-lock on the state pension,, scrap the two-child rule for tax credits which causes the ‘rape clause’, and promote a Scotland and a Britain that are open, tolerant and united.”