How those with a long-term illness can cut pounds from their footwear spending

How those with a long-term illness can cut pounds from their footwear spending

Many of us would go the extra mile to get 20% off the cost of our shoes… \but for those who have a long-term illness or disability, it’s simply a matter of not paying VAT.

“Most people know that there is VAT relief on essential aids and adaptations such as adjustable beds, stair lifts and wheelchairs,” says Deborah Stone, MD of the advice website  “But the VAT relief on specialist footwear that you often need to wear if you have certain long term conditions is a well kept secret.”

The website is asking mainstream media to spread the word and encourage more people to take advantage of the major savings available to those suffering from conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, arthritis, oedemas, diabetes and heart disease.

“The VAT rules state that individuals who are chronically sick or disabled can claim VAT Relief when they buy items which have been designed solely for them and is for their own ‘personal and domestic use’,” says Deborah. “And one of the eligible products is specialist footwear, such as extra roomy shoes, sandals, boots and slippers specifically designed to fit people with swelling in their feet and ankles.

“You can also get a range of shoes and boots which are specially designed for women with diabetes. These are completely seam-free which means there is nothing to rub or irritate sensitive or vulnerable feet.”

Not paying VAT on this type of footwear has been made extremely straightforward. “All the government requires is a simple declaration as to the nature of your disability at the time of ordering,” says Deborah. “No proof of the disability or even a doctor’s letter needs be shown at any time. All the company or supplier needs to know is the name and address of the person the item is for and what their chronic sickness or disability is. If the person can’t write due to their disability or illness, the signature of a spouse, doctor or another responsible person is acceptable on the declaration.”

It’s worth noting that the supplier doesn’t decide whether an item is or isn’t exempt –that’s up to the Government. Also, they don’t make any more or less money if they charge or don’t charge you VAT.

To be considered “chronically sick or disabled”, and therefore eligible for VAT relief, the a person has to fit one of the following criteria:

  1. Have a physical or mental impairment that has a long-term effect on their ability to carry out everyday activities
  2. Have a condition that doctors treat as a chronic sickness (diabetes, for example)
  3. Have a terminal illness

A person with a temporary injury, such as a broken leg, would not qualify, nor would a frail older person who is otherwise well and non-disabled. If you are unsure whether someone is eligible for VAT Relief, ask a doctor or medical advisor as the suppliers themselves aren’t allowed to give medical opinions.

So what sort of footwear is out there that meets these needs?

“You can buy extra roomy footwear, which is specially designed to fit swollen feet from specialist companies, says Deborah. “It’s much wider and deeper than footwear you would normally find on the High Street but remains stylish. It’s also adjustable – which is useful if one foot swells more than the other or if feet tend to swell as the day goes on. Some footwear features a stretchy material called Elastane, which gently stretches to fit over swelling, bunions and problem toes.”

You can find more information on the subject of VAT relief on specialist footwear on the website.

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