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HMRC internal manual

VAT Government and Public Bodies

Other local authority activities: miscellaneous (A to E): closed circuit television

The Home Office, and the Scottish Office in Scotland, fund local schemes to install and maintain close circuit television (CCTV) cameras in public places such as high streets and shopping centres. This is normally in co-operation with the police and local authority. The schemes may be run by some form of local representative association, possibly the local authority or other interested organisation such as the Chamber of Commerce. The government funding is by grant that is outside the scope of VAT.

The provision of CCTV equipment and services by local authorities to a local organisation is a business activity and therefore subject to VAT. If the local CCTV scheme is funded only by the government grant and other non-business income, for example donations or local authority grants, its activities will be wholly non-business. Unless the body running a scheme is itself a local or police authority, it will be unable to recover VAT on its costs.

There will be circumstances, however, where a scheme operator is in business for VAT purposes. For example where installation of camera surveillance of its members’ premises, in return for the members’ subscriptions, is a contractual obligation. In these circumstances schemes are able to recover input tax and must account for output tax in the normal way.

The Tribunal in North Lanarkshire CCTV (VTD 18031) found that a scheme operator can make taxable supplies to local authorities. In this case payments made by the local authority were for the provision of surveillance services rather than grants.