Clause 314 - Deposit schemes

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:30 am ar 18 Mai 2023.

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Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 11:30, 18 Mai 2023

Clause 314 makes changes to the Value Added Tax Act 1994. Those changes will enable further secondary legislation designed to ensure that businesses only account for VAT on the price actually paid for bottles or drinks containers covered by deposit return schemes. Such schemes are being introduced across the UK to encourage the recycling of containers, and under existing law VAT is due on the full price paid for a drink, including any deposit.

Existing rules do not permit VAT adjustments for deposit scheme refunds. That means that under the current law VAT would be collected on drink deposits, even though they have been refunded. We do not want that to happen, because we want to support the environmental aspirations of such measures. The changes made by clause 314 will address that, by removing the need to account for VAT on the deposit amount when it is charged. The new rules will require VAT to be accounted for only on unreturned deposits.

To avoid complexity for both consumers and businesses, only the business that makes the first sale of the drink with a deposit will be required to account for VAT on unreturned deposits. What that means in practice is that producers and importers will be the ones liable to account for it on their VAT returns. We have tried to protect both consumers and small shops—corner shops, newsagents and the like—from having to deal with any VAT complexity from the measure. When drinks containers are returned, they will be scanned, and the consumers will receive a refund of the deposit. It will not touch them; they will get the money back that they put forward. Information on numbers of returned products will be collected and passed to the business that made the first sale of the product on which a deposit was charged.

The clause provides the commissioners of His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs with a power to designate which deposit schemes are covered by the clause, to ensure that the special VAT accounting rules apply only to official Government deposit schemes, including those under discussion at the moment in Scotland. Consumers will not be affected by the VAT accounting, as they will pay a fixed deposit. If they return a container, they will receive the same amount back. I urge that the clause stand part of the Bill.