Linda Fabiani MSP for East Kilbride has brought the campaign to make food for assistance dogs VAT exempt to the Scottish Parliament with a dedicated Member’s Debate on Thursday 2nd February , ‘Assistance Dogs are Working Dogs Too’.

This issue was first brought to the attention of Linda by local Guide Dogs for the Blind campaigner, Chris Sinclair.  Under current VAT rules, guide dogs and other assistance dogs are not classed as working animals, therefore, unlike racing greyhounds and sheepdogs, they are charged VAT on their food.

Linda said “Assistance dogs do wide-ranging and fascinating work helping their owners to perform tasks, which increases their owners’ physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.

“They are trained to assist with everyday tasks around the home and out and about, including unloading the washing machine, opening and closing doors and drawers, helping people with undressing and bedtime routines, retrieving items, assisting with shopping, and fetching help in an emergency.

“They are working dogs and deserve to be recognised as such.

“Assistance dog charities do remarkable work in training the dogs and also in raising funds ensuring that dogs are given to people who need them and not just to those who can afford them.

“To take guide dogs as an example, it costs about £50,000 to breed, birth, wean, train and support a guide dog through its working life. Guide Dogs Scotland pays for the majority of the food that is given to its dogs.

“In 2011, the charity was responsible for 1,000 dogs.  They incur a yearly VAT spend of £40,000 on dog food.  If we made that food VAT exempt, we could provide a much-valued guide dog to another person with a disability in Scotland.

“I am proud to be supporting this campaign and encourage anyone who wants to become involved to sign the online petition calling for Westminster to change the VAT rules so that we can provide more disabled people with a much valued assistance dog.”

East Kilbride Guide Dogs for the Blind campaigner, Chris Sinclair said “I’m delighted that our MSP has taken up this cause on behalf of all the assistance dog charities and their disabled users.

“My guide dog Hugo is my lifeline and my life would be greatly diminished without the work he does for me.

“I was proud to attend the Member’s Debate with representatives of other assistance dogs charities who were grateful for the work done here in East Kilbride to get the UK Government to recognise assistance dogs as working dogs, making their food VAT exempt.

“Although I was disappointed to see that members from other parties did not attend the debate, I was pleased that the Scottish Government, SNP members and Jamie McGrigor from the Conservatives are all committed to addressing this matter with the UK Government and hopefully achieving a positive result for assistance dog charities and the disabled people who rely on them.”


  • Under current UK VAT legislation owners of working dogs are not required to pay VAT on their food
  • Zero rated pet food is high in protein as it is for dogs who are physically active for the majority of the day
  • Assistance dogs do not require this high protein diet so their food is not VAT exempt
  • At present UK wide, Guide Dogs spends £300,000 per year on the VAT liable for the dog food they purchase which is money that could be spent on helping blind and partially sighted people live independently.
  • Our aim is to have the current legislation changed so that assistance dogs are counted as working dogs and therefore their owners are not required to pay VAT on their foo


Link to Official Report http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28862.aspx?r=6780&mode=html

Link to Petition http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/27195

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