Page last updated at 20:43 GMT, Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Assistance Dogs are Working Dogs Too debate

Mr Q listened attentively to SNP MSP Linda Fabiani member's debate entitled "Assistance Dogs are Working Dogs Too" on 2 February 2012.

SNP MSP Dennis Robertson's guide dog is currently not classed as a working dog by Her Majesty's Treasury and thus does not receive VAT exempt dog food.

Ms Fabiani's motion highlighted that food for assistance dogs like guide dogs is not VAT exempt but that food for other working dogs, such as sheepdogs and greyhounds is.

The East Kilbride MSP called for the UK government to amend legislation so that food for assistance dogs would become exempt from VAT and highlighted an e petition lodged at Westminster calling for just that.

Ms Fabiani praised Guide Dogs Scotland and said that with a VAT exemption on food for the dogs they supported, they could save £40,000, and could provide another person with a guide dog.

Mr Robertson began his speech by declaring a member's interest as Mr Q was beside him in the chamber.

The Aberdeenshire West MSP said many people with a disability found assistance dogs of "immeasurable value".

He acknowledged it might not be easy for the UK government to immediately go to zero VAT under current regulations, but called on Westminster to reduce VAT on assistance dog's food to 5% as an interim measure.

Energy, Enterprise and Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said he would write to the UK Treasury to invite them to explain why assistance dogs' food did not have a zero rate of VAT, to ask the about a 5% rate as an alternative and to invite them to do so "as quickly as possible".

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