Q- My client is a general builder and has been asked to build an extension to provide practical living accommodation for his customer’s disabled son. The extension will include a flexible living and sleeping space and a shower room. There will also be a hoist in the sleeping area to assist in getting the child in and out of bed. The customer is asking about zero rating because the extension is being built to meet his son’s specific needs. Is there a blanket relief from the VAT or is relief restricted to specific areas?
A. There are a number of reliefs for specific goods and services for disabled people but no blanket relief by any means.
Goods and services supplied in the course of providing or adapting a bathroom, washroom or lavatory for a disabled person are zero-rated under VATA1994, Schedule 8, group 12 (items 10 and 13) but there is no relief for providing other new living accommodation. Where a building needs to be extended to provide this, the construction can be zero-rated only in so far as it relates to the shower room. As this extension will house a new shower room qualifying for zero rating, and the living accommodation where there is no relief, an apportionment must be made to those building services, and that can be on any fair and reasonable basis.
If your client is supplying the hoist and it has been designed specifically for use by disabled people, the supply of that hoist would be zero-rated under Group 12, item 2(e). Where the hoist qualifies for zero rating, the installation of it can also be zero-rated under item 7. This is the case whether your client supplies and installs or installs only.
Other building services qualifying for the zero rate that your client may supply as part of this project are the construction of ramps and the widening of doorways and passageways to facilitate the son’s movement around the existing house or garden (item 8).
In all cases, in order to be zero-rated, the law states that the supplies must be made to the disabled person. However, HMRC state in their guidance manual VRDP11200 that where adaptations are for a child or dependent relative living with the householder, the supply to the householder would normally be permitted to be zero-rated. It also means that if your client uses subcontractors to do any of this work, their supplies to your client would be standard rated.