Konnie Huq delivered a letter to 11 Downing Street today (Thursday 31st October) which demanded that Sajid Javid scrap VAT for e-books.
The television presenter and author was joined by the Publishers Association, The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and the National Literacy Trust as she delivered the letter signed by 90 MPs to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s residence. Signatories included former cabinet ministers Penny Mordaunt, David Mundell and Stephen Crabb.
The PA’s Axe the Reading Tax campaign calls for the removal of VAT on all digital publications to match zero-rated printed books. The campaign, led by PA, says the tax unfairly targets young readers and readers with disabilities.
Last year, the EU Council changed the law to allow member states to reduce the rate of VAT on e-books however the UK Government continues to charge the 20% rate. Since last year Belgium, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Malta dropped the charge.
Huq said: “It is fantastic to be in Downing Street today to fight to remove the unfair tax on those who need to read digitally. As both an author and a mum I know how important it is for children to grow up reading, regardless of whether this is on paper or screen. I am proud to be joining the Axe the Reading Tax campaign to help all children and encourage politicians to do their bit.”
RNIB head of policy and public affairs Eleanor Thompson said: “We are delighted to back the campaign to Axe the Reading Tax and join the push to make reading more inclusive. At the moment, only around ten per cent of all titles are available to blind and partially sighted people in a format they can access. eReaders and audiobooks allow people with sight loss to enjoy their favourite books just like everybody else and they should not be charged 20 percent more for this.”
Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell said: “I hope the Government sees sense and gets rid of the tax on eBooks and audiobooks as soon as it can. Taxing reading makes no sense, especially when it is being felt by those with disabilities and children just starting to understand the joy of reading.”
The PA and members including Hachette UK c.e.o. David Shelley and PRH chief executive Tom Weldon wrote an open letter to Sajid Javid in July, asking to end the VAT charge in his next budget. Last Thursday (24th October), the chancellor announced the budget would be delayed after the Prime Minister’s snap election was voted through Parliament.
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