VAT on health supplements
Sir, – In Budget 2019, the Government made a commitment to begin disability–proofing the budget process and also to introduce measures to address the cost of disability. With these commitments in mind, the decision to increase VAT on vitamins from March 1st is bewildering, as many disabled people rely on health supplements, which are not covered under the medical card or drug repayment schemes.
Thiry-five per cent of disabled people are at risk of poverty, more than double that of the population as a whole. This means that from March 1st, many disabled people who take supplements to augment their health may need to choose between health supplements and meeting other necessary expenses.
Had an analysis of the impact of a VAT increase on disabled people been carried out, it would have clearly demonstrated that it is likely to have a large impact on a group of people who already take health supplements, often to maintain a good standard of health or to counteract the side-effects of prescription medication.
There is much international research that shows that disabled people, particularly those people with intellectual disabilities, are more likely to have vitamin deficiencies, often leading to poorer health outcomes. Rather than penalising individuals who take health supplements, the Government might usefully consider a campaign promoting health, wellbeing and the benefits that health supplements can bring. – Yours, etc,
Interim Chief Executive