Police Scotland only UK force made to pay VAT

Philip Gormley

Police Scotland has paid a total VAT tax bill of £76.5 million since its formation in 2013 – and remains the only UK force which is unable to reclaim the tax.

Chief Constable Philip Gormley  revealed the figure in a letter to the Commons Home Affairs Committee.

The news comes as financial watchdog Audit Scotland released figures warning police of an £85m funding gap, bringing the controversial VAT issue to the fore.

Westminster’s Home Affairs Committee recently requested information from Police Scotland regarding its work training police forces of foreign governments.

In a letter to the committee, Mr Gormley said: “Finally you ask, in reference to a question posed by SNP MP Stuart McDonald, how much VAT Police Scotland is unable to reclaim, or has paid.

“Since Police Scotland was formed in April 2013 we have paid £76.5M in VAT and we remain the only police organisation in the United Kingdom to pay VAT.”

Following the committee meeting, a Scottish government spokeswoman said: “We remain deeply concerned about the glaring disparity of treatment between the service in Scotland and those in other parts of the UK where none of the other 44 forces have to pay VAT.

“We will continue to press the UK government to bring their VAT status into line with all other British and Northern Irish Forces, as requested in the letter of 24 February 2016.”

In December last year, former Finance Secretary John Swinney announced an extra £55m in funding for Police Scotland in his draft budget.

In the same week Audit Scotland warned of “significant issues” in the force’s accounts, with a potential funding gap of £85m developing by 2018/19.