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HMRC internal manual

VAT Relief for Disabled People Manual

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Low surface temperature radiators

Tribunal cases
Low surface temperature radiators installed in bathrooms
Can radiator covers, pipe covers or safety cabinets be zero-rated?

Tribunal cases

The Tribunal considered the issue of the liability of low surface temperature radiators in the following cases:

  • Boys and Girls Welfare Society (15274); and
  • Cheltenham Old People’s Housing Society Ltd (18795).

Boys and Girls Welfare Society (15274)

The Tribunal decision endorses our view that these radiator systems are not designed solely for use by disabled persons. In this case the Tribunal noted that the radiators had a value both in residential homes for disabled people but also in residential institutions for the elderly or able-bodied young children. The Tribunal was not persuaded that had such a system been installed in a residential unit for elderly people who needed to be protected from burning themselves, it would have been designed any differently. The David Lewis Centre (10860) case also recognised that these systems could be supplied to anyone.

Cheltenham Old People’s Housing Society Ltd (18795)

The Tribunal agreed with the Commissioners’ view that the heating system was not designed solely for use by disabled people.

Although a significant proportion of the residents of the home are handicapped (as defined for Group 12 purposes) as well as elderly, it is our conclusion that neither the component parts of the heating system nor the heating system taken as an entity can be said to have been designed solely for use by a handicapped person - those who instigated, designed and installed the system acted with the interests in mind of all the residents, handicapped or otherwise. We consider that the installation of the new heating system in the circumstances of this case cannot reasonably be said to be an adaptation of goods within Item 4 of Group 12.

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Low surface temperature radiators installed in bathrooms

The Tribunal also rejected in the case of Cheltenham Old People’s Housing Society Ltd that the works of installing new heating systems in bathrooms qualify for zero-rating under Item 11 and Item 13 of Group 12.

The supply of providing, extending or adapting a bathroom, washroom or lavatory for use by disabled persons is zero-rated if this is done in:

  • the disabled person’s private residence (see VRDP11600); or
  • an eligible charity’s residential home (see VRDP11650).

Where low surface temperature radiators are supplied in connection with qualifying construction services, they may also be zero-rated.

If such radiators are fitted as part of the supply in washrooms or lavatories which are being provided, extended or adapted in a building or any part of a building, for use principally by an eligible charity for charitable purposes (see VRDP11800), they may also be zero-rated.

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Can radiator covers, pipe covers or safety cabinets be zero-rated?

In the case of Joulesave EMES Limited (17115), the Tribunal found that the radiator and pipe covers had been designed solely for use by disabled people and when supplied to an eligible charity providing care for disabled people are eligible for VAT relief. The chairman stated

“We conclude that the supplies of the cabinets in this case should be zero-rated pursuant to Item 2(g) of group 12 of schedule 8 of the Act. The supplies of the pipe covers which are accessories designed to go with the cabinets should be zero-rated pursuant to Item 2(h). The supplies of services necessarily performed in the installation of the cabinets and pipes similarly fall to be zero-rated pursuant to Item 7 of group 12. Having regard to the applicability of Item 2(g) and (h), the supplies that we are considering also seem to us to fall within Item 5 of group 25 of schedule 8.”

The basic pre-conditions for zero-rating (see VRDP05000) must be met before a supply can be zero-rated.