/ VAT on avalanche kit

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marmot hunter - on 20 Jan 2013
I want to start a campaign to ask HM Government to remove VAT on avalanche safety equipment. Everyone going into the mountains in winter needs to take a probe (30), shovel (40) and transceiver (250) to be safe.
The VAT on these items is about 64, they are almost never used and can be lifesavers. without them quick rescue (<15 minutes) is almost impossible.
Tragic events in Glencoe reflect just how dangerous the winter mountains can be for even experienced people.
VAT was removed from cycling helmets a number of years ago now it is time to improve the chances of people venturing out into the snowy mountains.
estivoautumnal - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:

No. I don't agree.

Where do we stop, VAT reductions on the brake pads on my car because they are lifesavers? Smoke alarms in hotels? Thermometers in restaurant kitchens? Anti slip pads on pavements, etc etc etc.

If you can afford 400 on lifesaving equipment you can afford 80 on vat.
Darkskys - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter: interesting one, but agree with the above. If we deceide to go out into the mountains then we make a choice to do that but the consequences can be higher.

Edradour - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:

I don't agree.

Cycling is a method of transport encouraged by the government to commute to work as it is environmentally more sound than motorised transport and helps to combat increasing obesity. Since they encourage it, they took VAT off helmets (I presume - I didn't know that they had) to help encourage people to wear those too.

Winter walking or climbing is a choice that we make. It is a hobby. If you want to do it then you buy the kit.

Do we take VAT off life jackets for paddlers? Or regulators for divers? Parachutes for parachutists? etc etc. You can apply it to a whole load of things that are there for 'safety' and I don't think it is relevant.
marmot hunter - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to Darkskys:
Ok, may be in a minority, so cycle helmets should have VAT?
timjones - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:

Is sports equipment.

Why should it be exempt from VAT?
marmot hunter - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to Edradour:
Yep - no VAT on running shoes or any other sports equipment - sounds good to me.
Put VAT on fatty and sugary food - these are demonstrably costing the country millions if not billions in poor health/bariatric units in hopsitals.
Eating these things is as voluntary as hill walking but doesn't attract any taxation.
JayPee630 - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:

FFS, that's a stupid idea and will never happen, don't waste your time.
yesbutnobutyesbut - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:
> I want to start a campaign to ask HM Government to remove VAT on avalanche safety equipment. Everyone going into the mountains in winter needs to take a probe (30), shovel (40) and transceiver (250) to be safe.

I've never carried these in the UK in nearly 30 years of winter climbing.
timjones - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:
> (In reply to Darkskys)
> Ok, may be in a minority, so cycle helmets should have VAT?

It's hard to see why they should be exempt. Seat belts for your car have VAT on them AFAIK.
estivoautumnal - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:
> (In reply to Darkskys)
> Ok, may be in a minority, so cycle helmets should have VAT?

No. For the reasons Edradour gave.
marmot hunter - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to estivoautumnal:
Ok, I see I'm wrong in assuming safety equipment should be tax exempt. But I maintain fatty and sugary foods should be taxed. (Different thread I guess).

Someone else somewhere else suggested the C no longer stood for Climbing. Should you need to be abusive in their replies - you know what C stands for! No-one so far but you know how these things unravel!
Darkskys - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter: well personally I'd pay VAT for something that'd save my life! I understand where you coming from though but doubt it'd make a difference
estivoautumnal - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:

I haven't even begun to be abusive! You will know when I do, believe me.

FFS, see Edradour's (a fine whisky from a small home)reply please.
marmot hunter - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to estivoautumnal:
I'm sorry I'm not insinuating you were, I only hit reply (to the past post) I also said no-one so far (guess you didn't see that bit :(

David Barratt - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter: I can't imagine ever spending that amount of money on a transceiver thingy. Very expensive gadget that you can't possibly expect everyone to be buying or using. the people tis weekend wee very unlucky and I doubt they would have been saved by this kit.
In reply to marmot hunter:
> Everyone going into the mountains in winter needs to take a probe (30), shovel (40) and transceiver (250) to be safe.

With such a sweeping and incorrect statement underpinning your plan, it's hard to take this seriously. Are you for real?

estivoautumnal - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:

>
> Someone else somewhere else suggested the C no longer stood for Climbing. Should you need to be abusive in their replies - you know what C stands for! No-one so far but you know how these things unravel!

The abusive bit I mentioned.....

estivoautumnal - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

I dared to go into the mountains last time I was home in Dec. Not a drop of snow. I can safely say I wasn't carrying 320 worth of snow rescue equipment.

Like you, I find it hard to take this seriously.
In reply to estivoautumnal: I'm just annoyed with myself for accepting the troll's invitation!
ads.ukclimbing.com
Jon Wickham - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter: I agree with Edradour's comments above. However from the SAIS's Avalanche Tips section:

"All off-piste skiers should use avalanche transceivers and have them SWITCHED ON before leaving base. They should carry collapsible probes and shovels. Climbers and walkers should also consider the use of these items."

Personally I don't carry this kit in the hills. Partly this is from a vague idea that although avalanches are a clear danger, I perceive the danger in the UK is from a fall caused by an avalanche rather than being buried. Therefore carrying kit that is aimed at finding and digging for survivors has a very limited use. However I have absolutely nothing to base this idea on, so I'm going to do some re-reading of 'Chance in a Million' to see if I can find some answers.

My basic question is: In the UK, what is the cause of injury/death resulting from avalanches? Is it trauma or is it from burial/suffocation/hypothermia?
Eric9Points - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to yesbutnobutyesbut:
> (In reply to marmot hunter)
> [...]
>
> I've never carried these in the UK in nearly 30 years of winter climbing.

Me neither (36 years of winter in the Scottish hills).

What I have done though is learn as much as I can about snow conditions to make sure I keep myself safe.

A good start for anyone would be to read "Chance in a million", an excellent book explaining the nature of snow and the causes of avalanches.

Purple - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:
Everyone going into the mountains in winter needs to take a probe (30), shovel (40) and transceiver (250) to be safe.

I haven't bothered to read the thread 'cos is abundantly clear what the main thrust will be. For my part I'll add my counter to your assertion above. It's self-evidently not true.

estivoautumnal - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to Eric9Points:

It's mainly about luck, or being unlucky. Some (lots) of years ago I was approaching the base of route x in the cairngorms with 3 highly experienced climbers. We dug an avalanche pit, decided it was safe, proceeded 10m and our guy in front was suddenly carried 500ft down the hill in an avalanche. He survived but it taught us all that despite years of experience and skills, shit happens.
macstinator on 20 Jan 2013
AdrianC - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to estivoautumnal: I'm pretty alarmed if your conclusion from the incident you describe is that "it's mainly about luck," and I really hope that less experienced people reading this don't pick up on that idea. Sure - we're playing a game of chance but there's plenty you can do to stack the odds in your favour. I'm presuming (and hoping) that you also concluded that different decision making would have avoided a repeat?
marmot hunter - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to AdrianC:
Chance in a Million, on reflection, might not be the wisest of titles for the inexperienced mountaineer.
Surely it is about data, informed decisions and then luck?
The SAIS provide the data, it is our responsibility to have the skills and knowledge necessary to make the informed decisions, there will always be a luck element though.
Having the kit to find and then extract a fellow mountaineer can make an enormous contribution. Not having it means being less able to help a buried victim.
idiotproof (Buxton MC) - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:

Aren't MR teams in the UK still having to pay VAT on rescue equipment. Let's get that one straightened out and then we can look at VAT on stuff to make our hobbies cheaper
marmot hunter - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to idiotproof (Buxton MC):
Absolutely!
I think they can get it back now, wonder if English and Welsh teams will ever get the grants Scottish teams have been awarded by the Scottish Parliament?
ire - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:

It's exactly this sort of proposal that leads to inconsistencies in our tax legislation where companies try in vain to purport an item to be something else due to the rate of VAT imposed on said item (think Jaffa cake, is it a cake or biscuit?)

I believe every item should be subject to VAT (so that means books, kids clothing, etc). The VAT rate should then be lowered to reflect the extra revenue generated from the sale of these goods.
Eric9Points - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to estivoautumnal:
> (In reply to Eric9Points)
>
> It's mainly about luck, or being unlucky. Some (lots) of years ago I was approaching the base of route x in the cairngorms with 3 highly experienced climbers. We dug an avalanche pit, decided it was safe, proceeded 10m and our guy in front was suddenly carried 500ft down the hill in an avalanche. He survived but it taught us all that despite years of experience and skills, shit happens.

.. and since then you've always carried a shovel, probe and transceiver, yes?

aye right

IainRUK - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:
> (In reply to Edradour)
> Yep - no VAT on running shoes or any other sports equipment - sounds good to me.
> Put VAT on fatty and sugary food - these are demonstrably costing the country millions if not billions in poor health/bariatric units in hopsitals.
> Eating these things is as voluntary as hill walking but doesn't attract any taxation.

Interestingly in Aus you used to be able to claim for running shoes on your health insurance..

agree with others though..

One thing from NZ.. a family of a young lad killed set up a trust to provide transponders very cheaply for hire.. like $10 for a weekend.. which is less than 5..
Jon Wickham - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter: For those that don't know, the full title of the book is "A Chance in a Million?" (note the question mark). It was chosen as the title due to this being the supposed likelihood of being avalanched in Scotland. It is was this perception that the book aimed to change.

Having had a quick skim re-read of the book, a few key phrases stood out to me:

"About one Scottish avalanche incident in five involves burial of one or more people..." (p.83)
"These burials have resulted in a large number of fatalities due to asphyxia and exposure." (p.9)
"in about 90% of accidents, the climber or skier's presence upon the slope has triggered the avalanche." (p.11)

I think I will be buying an avalanche probe and re-reading 'A Chance in a Million'.
Glyno - on 20 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:
>Everyone going into the mountains in winter needs to take a probe (30), shovel (40) and transceiver (250) to be safe.
>

no they don't.

...next.

Philip on 20 Jan 2013
You want to put VAT on sugary and fatty food. But you need sugary and fatty food to survive in the mountains.

So you lose you 80 for your vat on equipment but think what you're saving when you stuff your knapsack with sausage rolls and kendle mint cake.
Moggsy on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to yesbutnobutyesbut: well you will be as useful as tits on a fish in an avalanche
Simon Caldwell - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:

> Everyone going into the mountains in winter needs to take a probe (30), shovel (40) and transceiver (250) to be safe.

A transceiver is of little use unless everyone carries one. And 99.9% of walkers/climbers do not. They are also of limited use unless you're in an area with lots of other people; this is true of a few climbing areas, but head outside these and you're largely on your own. So they'd help in those cases where only part of a party was avalanched.

Personally I never carry a probe. A walking pole could be used if necessary, UK avalanches are rarely deeper than this (prepares to be proved wrong).
Occasionally (but rarely) a shovel - when I do it's more likely because I'm planning on snow holing or such like.

But the lack of these isn't the main risk I take. The main risk is heading into the hills alone, when carrying all the above would more often than not be useless. I won't stop doing it though.
TheDrunkenBakers - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:

I think some of the replies are a tad harsh. The OP was starting a debate. Normally a debate starts with a perspective whether ludicrous or sensible and people either choose to engage or not. If you disagree, say so and give evidence, dont flame. The OP might be a 17 year old with little or no worldly wisdom. Lets educate not berate.

Anyhoo, tax and monetary changes by the government are tools to dissuade or promote bahaviour in the peoples in order to satisfy the policies of the government.

For instance: Tax on high fat/sugar foods is good, VAT on bikes is bad. massive tax on fags is good, low or no VAT on exercise equipment (stuff which cant be used for anything other than its intended purpose i.e. treadmill or free weights or fitness classes) could be good.

VAT on sports equipment is arguably could quite a bad thing if if would promote more people getting involved in sport. The problem with sports clothing and trainers etc is that in some quarters they are seen as fashion items and so might not be used in the pursuit of sporting activity so how would this be policed. It never could.

VAT on mountain safety equipment? Hmmm, I can see the OPs point but I suspect that as a sport which has a high cost for the rest of the kit, some politicians might see it as an exclusive, high end sport, akin to golf or polo, and therefore say that the participant could either afford the VAT or not do it. Personal safety is worth a smidge more than 80 notes.
roddyp on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:

I reckon you're better off spending the money on a Winter Skills course, initially. And they also attract VAT - like First Aid courses do.




Jim Fraser - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:

Please refer to HMRC Notice 701/23.
http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsPortalWebApp/channelsPortalWebApp.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabe...

This document appears to be the only one that applies to protective equipment and only a very narrow range of protective equipment is included. There therefore appears to exist no current notice that expresses implicitly or explicitly a principle on which to base an exemption or zero-rating for these items when purchased by an ordinary hill user.

Neither is there any obvious related schedule in the VAT Act 1994.

In order for there to be an exemption or zero-rating for these items, I can imagine that only their regular use in the street of London, including by a few MPs on the way to work, as has been the case for the other items, would result in action. :-)
AdrianC - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to Toreador:

>
Sorry but, especially at this time there are going to be lots of people worried about avalanches and looking for information about them and some of the things that are being written here are going to give people a false impression of what avalanche safety is about. So, Toreador, I don't mean to pick on you but there are some points in your post I want to follow up on.
>
> A transceiver is of little use unless everyone carries one. And 99.9% of walkers/climbers do not. They are also of limited use unless you're in an area with lots of other people; this is true of a few climbing areas, but head outside these and you're largely on your own. So they'd help in those cases where only part of a party was avalanched.

Sure - transceivers are no use if all of the party is buried. But if you're buried your absolute best chance of being dug out alive is someone in your own party finding you with a transceiver. This is well documented from hundreds of incidents. Yes - they help where only part of the party is avalanched which is why one of the safe travel techniques we practice in avalanche terrain is moving one at a time between islands of safety on exposed slopes. All this stuff is totally under your party's control - there's no need for anyone else in the area to be wearing a transceiver for it to make sense for a party to do so.

>
> Personally I never carry a probe. A walking pole could be used if necessary, UK avalanches are rarely deeper than this (prepares to be proved wrong).


Try probing avalanche debris with a walking pole sometime. And it doesn't take a super deep avalanche to pile up in a terrain trap (gully, bench, boulder etc.) to give you some pretty deep debris.

Sorry again if any of that sounds a bit blunt and I'm conscious that there's going to be lots of sensitivity about this topic right now and I hope this discussion in parallel with the other thread isn't upsetting anyone. But please, people - there is a lot of very good information out there on avalanche safety. Please go and seek it out and make sure you're learning the right story.

Simon Caldwell - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to AdrianC:
> Try probing avalanche debris with a walking pole sometime.

I have, we did it on course many years ago. In fact, 2 separate courses with 2 different people (perhaps it was accepted advice at the time but is no longer recommended?). Hard work, and it comes into the 'better than nothing' category. But then so much else does - mobile phone rather than satellite phone, or plastic bag rather than bivi bag and sleeping bag.

We'd certainly all be safer if everyone carried 300 worth of extra avalanche rescue kit. I was just questioning the statement that you need this kit to be safe. Much more useful would be awareness of the risks and how to assess/mitigate them - something which too many people lack.
andyathome - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to marmot hunter:
> Everyone going into the mountains in winter needs to take a probe (30), shovel (40) and transceiver (250) to be safe.
>

Absolute Bollocks.

Discuss...

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