Guide Dogs for the Blind: Osborne urged to can VAT on guide dog food

Charity calls for an end to a £300,000 per year VAT charge

Guide Dogs ( is disappointed that despite giving businesses and top earners tax breaks, George Osborne hasn’t announced an end to VAT on guide dog food in today’s budget.

The charity’s VAT bill for guide dog food is £300,000 a year, money that should be spent on transforming the lives of people living with sight loss.

Under current rules the greyhound industry does not pay VAT on food for racing dogs. Guide Dogs, and other charities that provide assistance dogs which help people with disabilities, do not receive an equivalent tax break.

Guide Dogs does not receive any government funding and completely relies on public donation to pay for its life transforming work.

David Cowdrey, Campaigns Manager, Guide Dogs said:

“It is simply not right that the greyhound industry benefits from tax breaks on the food it feeds to its dogs and we do not. VAT on food for guide dogs cost us £300,000 per year, money that could be spent on transforming the lives of people living with sight loss.”

Under current UK legislation, high protein food created for working dogs is exempt from VAT. However, guide dogs, and other assistance dogs, are not classed as working dogs and the VAT free high protein food is unsuitable for them. We want guide dogs and other assistance dogs reclassified as working dogs, and their food to be exempt from VAT.

Note to Editors

1) About The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association: The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association is a British charitable organisation founded in 1934. Guide Dogs provides independence and freedom to thousands of blind and partially sighted people across the UK through the provision of guide dogs, mobility and other rehabilitation services. It also campaigns passionately for the rights of those with visual impairments. Guide Dogs is working towards a society in which blind and partially sighted people enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.

2) In December 2011, Linda Fabiani MSP (SNP, East Kilbridge) launched a campaign to get assistance dogs classed as working dogs so their food is exempt from VAT. Guide Dogs supported that campaign.

3) Picture – Guide dogs demonstrating outside Downing Street against VAT on guide dog food. Contact us for a high resolution printable copy.