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Motorcycle groups call for zero VAT on air jackets

IAM Roadsmart has joined the BMF, National Motorcyclists Council and other motorcycle groups to call for zero VAT on air jackets. Currently, only motorcycle helmets are zero-rated, along with cycle helmets and some industrial PPE (personal protective equipment).

Research by air jacket/vest distributor Helite indicates that as few as 4% – one in 25 – of UK motorcyclists currently own an air jacket. The cost could well be putting some off, with Helite’s Turtle 2 air vest range starting at £550 and its Touring Air Jacket at £795. Making these zero rated would knock 20% off the price, reducing the Turtle 2 to as little as £440. An alternative to zero-rating air jackets and vests would be to give them the same low VAT rate applied to child car seats, currently 5%.

Lee Vigor, a Development Test Rider from Nuneaton, has reason to thank his air jacket. He hit a vehicle on the A429 at over 50mph and sustained leg and hip injuries, but his torso was unharmed. When hospital staff examined Lee, they put him through the MRI scanner five times, unable to believe that his back and internal organs were undamaged.

Jim Freeman, Chair of the BMF, underlined the need for all motorcycle PPE to be made more affordable: “Which begs the question as to why other PPE isn’t zero rated? An air jacket is hardly a fashion item, they are not mandatory, like helmets, but they’re certainly serious safety equipment and anything that brings them to a wider market has to be a good idea.”

Written by Peter Henshaw

Top image Helite UK