West Norfolk blood bike charity welcomes Budget VAT refund pledge

SERV Norfolk Blood Bikes collect breast milk from their first local donor. The milk arrives at the Rosie Hospital, Cambridge. ENGANL00120120412102402
SERV Norfolk Blood Bikes collect breast milk from their first local donor. The milk arrives at the Rosie Hospital, Cambridge. ENGANL00120120412102402
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Charity officials have welcomed a VAT pledge in this week’s Budget which, they say, will save them thousands of pounds a year.

Chancellor George Osborne announced that blood bike charities would now be included in a VAT refund scheme during his statement to the Commons on Wednesday.

And the news will provide a major boost to the SERV Norfolk blood bikes group, which delivers blood and other vital supplies to Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital and other sites in the county.

Treasurer Keith Griesdale said the decision would save up to £500 per month on the group’s current running costs, which are between £2,200 and £2.500. He said: “It’s a huge relief. It’s the equivalent of one-and-a-half weeks’ worth of petrol and diesel. It will make a big difference, a really big difference.”

The announcement follows a two-year campaign by service chiefs and politicians to exempt the sector from VAT, which was revived by the decision to extend the same provision to air ambulances last autumn.

Mr Osborne also announced funding for a new helicopter for the East Anglian Air Ambulance service, along with four others across the country.

The cost, thought to be around £1.7 million, will be drawn from fines paid by banks following the Libor rate-fixing scandal.