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HMRC internal manual

VAT Relief for Disabled People Manual

‘Designed solely’ equipment: medical condition of end user

A product may be designed:

  • to help with a range of medical conditions; or
  • for general hospital use; or
  • for medical use.

Not all of these conditions may render the sufferer chronically sick or disabled. This means that the product would not qualify as designed solely for use by a disabled person.

The same will apply where a product is designed for all sufferers of particular chronic conditions, such as back complaints, but a significant number of people with these conditions may not be rendered sick or disabled by their condition.

Only if the manufacturer can establish that only those suffering from the condition to such an extent that the person is disabled and would need the product, does it qualify for zero-rating.

These points are demonstrated in the Tribunal decisions for Princess Louise Scottish Hospital (1412) (see VRDP30000) and Aquakraft Ltd (2215) (see VRDP35000). Zero-rating was refused in both cases because the goods were:

  • clearly general purpose; and
  • of use to those suffering from short term sickness and injury.

The goods were for the use of hospital patients generally and the condition which the designer had in mind, although chronic, would not in all cases be sufficiently serious to render a person chronically sick or disabled. Zero-rating was therefore refused, because the goods could not be described as being designed solely for use by a chronically sick or disabled person.