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HMRC internal manual

VAT Relief for Disabled People Manual

‘Designed solely’ equipment: how to decide if goods are ‘designed solely’

Tribunal and Court cases give a number of indicative criteria, which you can use to make your decision. These are:

  • knowledge of the trader’s activities
  • to whom in practice the product is sold?
  • are similar products already on the market? If so, what liability is applied to them?

You should also consider the following points:

  • Does the appearance and method of operation of the equipment or appliance suggest that it was designed solely for use by a disabled person?
  • Is it something of a single-purpose design, that is, manufactured to a design for the sole use of people with disabilities?
  • Has it been ‘planned and fashioned’ in such a way as to render it for use solely by a disabled person?
  • Would it be used solely by disabled people?
  • Would it be of similar value to people other than those with disabilities?

If it was designed solely for use by disabled people, but has subsequently been used by a wider range of people, then it would continue to qualify for zero-rating.

There are many products which are useful or even essential to people with disabilities. But they are not necessarily ‘designed solely for use by a disabled person’. Item 2(g) is drawn in very narrow terms by use of the word ‘solely’. It is not intended to relieve products which people with disabilities might find useful in coping with their disability, but were designed for wider applications.

Consider examining the goods at the trader’s premises. If appropriate, the trader might wish to demonstrate the goods in use.