George Osborne announces VAT refunds for hospices and rescue charities in the Autumn Statement

The government will also increase the annual investment limit for social investment tax relief

George Osborne unveils today's Autumn Statement
George Osborne unveils today's Autumn Statement

VAT refunds for hospices, search and rescue and air ambulance charities, and changes to the investment limits for social investment tax relief were among the announcements made in today’s Autumn Statement.

George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, used his speech in the House of Commons to say that hospice charities "have long been subject to unfair rules that force them to pay VAT, when the NHS does not".

He said: "I am today refunding the VAT that these hospice charities incur."

Hospice UK, which represents organisations providing hospice care, said that the move, which it said would apply to certain non-business supplies, would be worth more than £4m a year.

The Association of Air Ambulances said it expected air ambulance charities to save about £10m over the next five years as a result of the VAT change.

Documents released alongside Osborne’s speech also show that the government will increase the annual limit for investment in an organisation under the social investment tax relief scheme to £5m a year, up to a lifetime maximum of £15m. 

The government will also "consult further on a new relief for indirect investment in social enterprises", the documents say.

Osborne also used his speech to announce that the government would use fines from banks levied as a result of the Libor rate-rigging scandal to finance new helicopters for both the Great Western Air Ambulance and the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance.

He said that aid workers who died dealing with humanitarian emergencies would be exempt from inheritance tax on their estates, as already applies to those in the armed forces who are killed while on active service.

The documents reiterate the government’s intention to publish legislation that will allow intermediaries to play a larger role in administering Gift Aid.

The government said it would continue and extend the review of donor benefits launched in the Budget earlier this year to include the rules around Gift Aid on membership and entrance fees.

Osborne also announced a review of business rates.

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