I am registered disabled,

why can’t I get VAT relief on the Oarsome Grips?

We would love to be able to offer you VAT exemption; but unfortunately what makes the Oarsome Grips so special, is exactly the reason we aren't able to. Here's why... HMRC say that any product that offers VAT relief should have been designed solely for people with disabilities, and should be used solely by people with disabilities. The Oarsome Grips were originally designed for rowing, and are used by people with and without disabilities in lots different ways. We've spoken to HMRC several times on this to see if there is any wiggle room, and unfortunately not. We're so sorry :(

If you'd like to read the detail from HMRC, please see below

4.5 Other equipment and appliances “designed solely” for use by a disabled person 4.5.1 General

You can zero rate the supply to an eligible customer as detailed in paragraph 3.1 of any other equipment and appliances that have been designed solely for use by disabled people. It is not sufficient for zero-rating that the equipment or appliance is merely destined or intended for use by a disabled person, or is mainly purchased by disabled persons. For example, general purpose equipment such as most computer hardware, ordinary or orthopaedic beds, orthopaedic or reclining chairs may benefit a disabled person, but are designed for general use or for use by disabled and able bodied people alike. Such products are not eligible for relief.

Equipment which has been designed solely for use by a disabled people will remain eligible for relief even though they are available to be purchased by people who do not have a disability. VAT relief will however only apply to supplies which are made to eligible persons or bodies as detailed in paragraph 3.1.

4.5.2 Meaning of “designed solely for use by a disabled person” This means the original intention of the designer was to produce equipment or an appliance designed solely to meet the needs of persons with one or more disabilities. The design must succeed in that the product does in fact meet the needs of disabled persons. There are a number of conditions which may, but do not invariably result in disability - such as:  asthma;  psoriasis; and  dyslexia. Equipment which meets the needs of people with such a condition will only qualify for zero-rating if designed solely for the purpose of meeting the needs of disabled sufferers of the condition.

4.5.3 Who determines if the goods are eligible? It is only the designer or manufacturer who is able to determine whether the goods qualify for zero-rating. The designer, manufacturer or importer of the goods must retain evidence which demonstrates that the goods in question fulfil the conditions for relief. There is no single piece of evidence that must be held but may include contemporaneous records on:the disability needs to be addressed;  the product specification for meeting those needs;  results of tests demonstrating that the product meets the design intention; or  patent or patent application.

If you are not the designer, manufacturer or importer, and you think that the equipment or appliances you are selling have been designed solely for use by a disabled person you should ask the manufacturer or importer whether this is in fact the case. The manufacturer’s or importer’s advertising literature will sometimes contain a statement that the equipment has been designed solely for use by disabled people. Where VAT relief depends on the manufacturer’s or importer’s design intention only the manufacturer or importer should seek liability rulings from Customs. Local Business Advice Centres have been asked to refuse requests for liability rulings from retailers.

4.5.4 Examples of equipment and appliances qualifying for relief:  Braille embossers;  incontinence products - but see below;  long handled pick up sticks;  text telephones;  whistling cups for blind people;  white canes for blind people;  vibrating pillows for deaf or hard of hearing people;  transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator; and  wheelchairs. Eligible incontinence products, for retail sale, are zero-rated on the shelf. In practice, this means that there is no requirement for the customer to provide a written declaration to the retailer confirming they are eligible for VAT relief.

Supplies of eligible incontinence products over the Internet or by mail order also qualify for VAT relief providing they are made to individuals and not institutions. We will expect retailers, Internet and mail order suppliers to have a signed declaration, or other supporting evidence that the supply is to an incontinent individual and not to an institution such as a nursing home, for customers who buy more than:  200 disposable pads;  50 washable pads;  5 collecting devices; or  10 pairs of waterproof or leak-proof underwear. 4.5.5 Examples of products which do not qualify for relief  Most hearing aids (see paragraph 4.6 for exceptions);  contact lenses;  dentures (see paragraph 4.2);  items which are not equipment or appliances; or  spectacles. The above items are specifically excluded from this relief by law.