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HMRC internal manual

VAT Government and Public Bodies

Other local authority activities: welfare: community alarms

It is common for the elderly or vulnerable to be provided with an alarm to alert a responsible person in the event of a fall, illness or threat of danger. They may be hard wired into a residence or portable so that they can be worn or carried by the person. Alarms are usually monitored by a contact centre or monitoring service who provide assistance if the alarm is activated.

Where an alarm provided by a local authority is supplied as part of a package of formal welfare services it is a non-business supply. Any payment made by an individual to the local authority is outside the scope of VAT. If an alarm is wired to become an integral part of the home of a local authority tenant and any contribution is by means of an increased rent, that is also a non-business supply.

In any other circumstance the supply of an alarm is generally standard rated. However, it may be zero-rated where the disabled person themselves contracts for the installation of an emergency alarm call system (linked to a specified person or call centre) in their own home. For more information see Notice 701/7: VAT reliefs for disabled and older people.