Axe Safety Tax campaign could have saved councils millions on Grenfell safety measures

A campaign to scrap VAT on safety products in the home could have made a huge difference to councils in the year since Grenfell.

New figures show that London councils have spent almost £100million on safety measures in the 12 months since the tragedy.

Some councils have been forced to delay refurbishing accommodation in order to pay for the fire safety work such as fire doors and other products and services.

Examples include Kensington and Chelsea which has spent £4.6million on fire safety improvement work, while Croydon is paying £10million to retrofit sprinkler systems in high rise blocks.

Only cladding replacement work is being funded by Government.

The Axe Safety Tax campaign was launched earlier this year to scrap the 20 per cent tax on a range of products and services including fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, gas safety checks, fire doors and fire extinguishers.

Singer Midge Ure, ex England footballer Robbie Fowler and West End actress Carley Stenson are among those backing the campaign along with a large number of MPs.

There is an online petition to have the issue debated in Parliament: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/209347

The campaign has been prompted by a number of facts including:

• 1.5 million households in England do not have a smoke alarm
• 4,000 people in England are hospitalised each year due to carbon monoxide poisoning
• Almost 2,500 electrical fire incidents are reported every year
• Low-income families are most at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning as they cannot afford to service, repair or replace gas appliances.

Stephen Ullathorne, CEO of award-winning RegTech company Gas Tag, which initiated the Axe Safety Tax campaign, said: “The Axe Safety Tax campaign would have saved councils millions of pounds in unnecessary VAT charges.

“At a time when budgets are so tight, our campaign could have enabled some councils to continue with their refurbishment programmes while also improving safety measures.

“It is a disgrace that safety products in the home continue to be taxed as if they were luxury items.”

RegTech is the term associated with businesses like Gas Tag which develop innovative technology to enable organisations to deliver regulatory requirements.

• Click here to view a video showing celebrities backing the campaign: https://vimeo.com/253250607/dcfac49190

• For more information please contact Lucy Mason at MASON – 0151 239 5050 / 07903 197402 or email: lucy@masonmedia.co.uk

How much do you know about gas safety in your home?

As part of our #AxeSafetyTax campaign, we’ve launched a survey to find out how much the general public knows about gas safety in the home, and discover where we may be able to help in educating on lesser-known areas.

This survey is anonymous and only takes a couple of minutes to fill in. We would really appreciate your feedback in helping to get a clearer picture of what is and isn’t known about this very important topic.

You can take the survey online today by clicking here.

UKALA pledges support for #AxeSafetyTax

The UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) has pledged its support for the #AxeSafetyTax campaign.

UKALA offers a single, unified voice for the private rented sector, working together with the National Landlords Association (NLA) to represent the interests of letting and management agents in the UK, whilst also safeguarding the interests of both landlords and tenants.

Find out more about UKALA by visiting their website here.

Join them by pledging your support and signing the petition here.

#AxeSafetyTax featured in The Phoenix Newspaper

We’ve been featured in Birmingham newspaper ‘The Phoenix’ today. Read the article in full here.

Campaign to make homes safer is launched in Parliament

MPs, housing association bosses and celebrities today launched a campaign to make Britain’s homes safer.

The Axe Safety Tax initiative to abolish VAT on all safety products and services that go into UK homes was unveiled at a House of Commons breakfast event.

The Government is being urged to scrap the 20% tax on a range of products including fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, gas safety checks, fire doors and fire extinguishers.

Mike Amesbury, MP for Weaver Vale & Member of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, said it was vital landlords supported the “lifesaving” initiative.

He said: “We are all aware of the tragic consequences of fires in housing blocks. We need to work together to improve safety and reduce fire risk. It is important we look at all options to make our homes safer.”

Other supporters of the Axe Safety Tax campaign include Emma Dent Coad, the MP for Kensington, whose constituency includes Grenfell Tower.

She said: “It is a total disgrace that safety products are taxed as if they are luxury items. VAT must be reduced so that everyone can afford to buy them and be safe in their homes. It’s a no-brainer.”

Celebrities including former England footballers Jamie Carragher and Robbie Fowler, the musician Midge Ure and TV personality Paddy McGuinness have also put their names to the initiative.

The gas safety technology company, Gas Tag, is behind the campaign. The Liverpool-based company’s CEO Paul Durose said: “Abolishing VAT on safety products would allow housing associations to accelerate the investment they are making in health and safety.

“Raising money in taxation from making homes safer is shameful and not a reflection of the compassionate society in which we live.”

Several leading housing associations are also backing the campaign. The VAT raised annually on safety products and inspections across the social housing sector is in excess of £200million.

Tom Dacey, Group Chief Executive at Southern Housing Group, said “The fact that safety is taxed at the maximum rate is unjustifiable. We’re backing the Axe Safety Tax campaign and we’re asking other housing associations and councils to give their backing and support it too.”

The launch was also attended by Mike Cunningham, Deputy Director, VAT & Excise, who invited campaigners to take part in further discussions over the coming weeks.

An online petition to force a debate in Parliament has been launched as part of the Axe Safety Tax campaign – please sign it here.

You can also view the official campaign video here.

Image L>R Paul Durose CEO of Gas Tag, Mike Amesbury MP and Stephen Ullathorne CEO of Gas Tag

Burns victim well enough to watch beloved Spurs

A teenager who suffered extensive burns in a gas explosion just three months ago has been able to leave hospital to see his favourite football club in action.

Kyle Roe defied the odds to survive the blast in his Wiltshire flat last October, which left him with 87% burns.

Family and friends launched a fundraising campaign for the Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery at Morriston Hospital, to thank staff who have been caring for Kyle, and have made their first donation.

Read the full article here.

Leeds woman thanks Samaritan who saved her from Tinshill gas explosion

Another article from ITV News detailing a scary gas explosion that could have been avoided…

A woman from Leeds has thanked the ‘good samaritan’ who rescued her after a gas explosion in the building where she’d lived for 12 years.
Emergency services called to ‘explosion’ in North Leeds
Jane Fallon lost everything following the blast in Tinshill three days before Christmas.

The blast happened on the first floor, but Jane, who lived downstairs – was in the property and feared the worst.

Read the full article here.

The silent killer: calls for compulsory carbon monoxide alarms

From ITV News this week…

It’s claimed landlords in the North West are putting tenant’s lives at risk by not installing carbon monoxide detectors.

New figures show the region has the highest percentage of tenants without alarms in England – more than half of all rented properties.

Read the full article here.