This part of GOV.UK is being rebuilt – find out what beta means

HMRC internal manual

VAT Welfare

Welfare services: goods provided in connection with welfare services - meals on wheels

The provision and delivery of a hot meal for payment is generally a standard-rated supply of catering - whether supplied by a take-away business or a meals on wheels service.

You will need to examine the contracts, funding agreements or other relevant documentation to establish whether the service consists of no more than the provision and delivery of a hot meal.

A Local Authority’s meals on wheels activity could also consist of a broader range of services connected to the welfare of recipients. This might include looking-in on the recipient of the meal and reporting on any problems with their general welfare to the Local Authority Social Services department. The extent of this broader ‘welfare’ activity is sometimes not always immediately apparent and some of the elements of the service are not formally reflected in the contract with the Local Authority.

You should look at the reality of the situation, and ask the supplier to provide details of any activities carried out alongside the provision of a meal to enable you to determine whether the supply is one of catering or welfare services, of which a hot meal represents an integral part. If the supply is one of welfare services it will be exempt from VAT.