Wednesday 20 March 2019

Health stores welcome delay to 23% VAT rate

Kathy Rogers of Health at Hand in Arklow protesting with Nicola Hobbs on the day of action against the VAT increase
Kathy Rogers of Health at Hand in Arklow protesting with Nicola Hobbs on the day of action against the VAT increase
Dominic Galvin of Naturalife health shop in Rathnew with Deputy Stephen Donnelly

The announcement that the Revenue Commissioners has deferred the introduction of a 23 per cent VAT rate on vitamins and supplement products has been welcomed across Co Wicklow.

In Arklow, Kathy Rogers, proprietor of Health at Hand who participated in the recent independent health stores day of action to highlight opposition to the increase, said that she is happy to hear of the deferral.

'We are delighted that the VAT has been deferred until November. This was always the most sensible outcome and what the campaign was focused on from the beginning. It's now time for the government to legislate. Applying 23 per cent VAT to food supplements made no sense socially, morally or fiscally. We have received cross party support and assistance from all parties and independents. This bodes well for a legislative solution come November. The campaign will continue until this has been wholly resolved,' she said.

The move has also been welcomed by Fianna Fáil spokesperson for Health Deputy Stephen Donnelly who said that deferring the increase allows for changes to be considered in Budget 2020.

'This means it's possible that the hike could be completely scrapped, reduced, or limited to certain products. Those who would be worst hit are the most vulnerable, severely ill and elderly people, as well as patients with chronic conditions. But the truth is we're all under pressure at the moment from the spiralling cost of living and any increase is most certainly not needed. The sector too would inevitably suffer major damage if it were to proceed. In the past number of weeks I've met with some of our own Wicklow businesses that would be affected, such as Naturalife in Rathnew and Nature's Gold in Greystones, both of whom have been particularly worried about the effects of the VAT increase,' he said.

A representative of CarePlus Pharmacy, an independent pharmacy chain with outlets in Arklow and Wicklow town, said that pharmacists were concerned that a significant price increase would impact all customers who use vitamins and minerals to supplement their health needs.

The pharmacy chain pointed to the fact that there are some people who rely heavily on supplements, such as pregnant women, babies, the elderly and those whose immune and digestive systems have been compromised.

Niamh Lynch, Commercial Director of CarePlus Pharmacy, said that some people are simply following doctor's orders in purchasing supplements.

'At CarePlus, many of our customers purchase vitamins on the recommendation from their GPs and healthcare providers. For some consumers, the price escalation might be a barrier to maintaining good health and self-care.

'Efforts should be made to relieve an overburdened health system and not tax efforts to remain healthy,' she said.

Bray People