VAT: power to provide for persons to be eligible for refunds

Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:30 am ar 7 Gorffennaf 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Rebecca Long-Bailey Rebecca Long-Bailey Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I will keep my comments brief on this clause, which amends the Value Added Tax Act 1994 to enable public bodies to get VAT refunds when they enter into cost-sharing arrangements. I hope that the Minister can address a few points. First, the explanatory note indicates that some bodies will lose some of their existing funding as a result of the clause. It would be helpful if he could explain the criteria that the Government will apply. Secondly, can he give us more detail on the areas where the Government are encouraging shared services specifically? The tax information and impact note states:

“To date these services have mainly been in the fields of HR, recruitment and training, and IT services.”

Will the Minister confirm whether the Government plan to encourage shared services in other areas?

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

It is a great pleasure to welcome you back to the Chair, Sir Roger. As we have heard, the clause will allow named non-departmental public bodies and similar bodies to claim a refund on VAT they incur as part of a shared service arrangement. That will encourage public bodies to share back-office services where doing so results in greater efficiencies of scale. Non-departmental public bodies such as the research councils and some NHS bodies cannot always recover the VAT they pay on the purchase of goods and supplies because they do not always undertake business activities—for example, those activities where an onward charge is made. That includes VAT charged when one such body supplies services to others under a shared services arrangement.

Current UK VAT legislation allows Government Departments and NHS bodies to recover the VAT they pay on outsourced or shared services, and we are now extending that scheme to non-departmental public bodies and similar arm’s length bodies. That will ensure VAT does not act as a barrier to those organisations outsourcing and sharing services, which will encourage efficiency savings and deliver better value for taxpayers’ money.

Tax liabilities, including VAT, are catered for in departmental spending settlements. To ensure that there is no double counting, it will be necessary for the Treasury to be satisfied that public funding of those bodies is adjusted where VAT has already been compensated for. Otherwise, the Exchequer could be paying twice. We will also require eligible bodies to claim VAT in the same financial year in which the purchase was made, and not in a later year. The change will affect around 124 departmental bodies.

The hon. Member for Salford and Eccles asked whether some bodies will lose funding. If a non-departmental public body gets its VAT back, the Department’s spending profile will be adjusted accordingly, making it revenue-neutral. Bodies are therefore not losing out as a consequence of the clause. She also asked for more details on how the Government are encouraging shared services. We will accept bids and make decisions on a case-by-case basis. It is difficult for me to say much more at this point, but if efficiencies can be found, any sensible Government would want to find them, and we would not want the VAT system to get in the way.

The clause will allow named non-departmental and similar bodies to claim a refund of the VAT they incur as part of a shared service arrangement used to support their non-business activities, which will ensure that VAT is not a disincentive for public bodies to share back-office services and will encourage better value for money.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 111 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 112