Health and Social Care Questions 17/11/20

Today at health questions I asked the Secretary of State for Health if the UK Government would remove VAT on ventilation systems to reduce Covid spread.

Given we now know that Covid is spread via droplets and airborne transmission, supporting indoor businesses to upgrade or install these systems will make them safer.

I have previously called on the Health Secretary to raise this issue with the Chancellor, as can be seen here:

Dr Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire) (SNP)

As I have highlighted previously, covid is spread not just by droplets but by airborne particles, so good ventilation is key to reducing the risk of spread indoors, such as in hospitality. On 20 October, the Secretary of State agreed to speak to the Chancellor about removing VAT from ventilation and air-purification systems to make them more affordable. Can the Secretary of State tell us what discussions he has had with the Chancellor and what the outcome was?

Matt Hancock

There has been work on promoting ventilation in government. The hon. Lady is absolutely right that ventilation is important and that the scientific evidence on the aerosol transmission of coronavirus has strengthened over recent months.

Dr Whitford

If that is the case, can the Secretary of State clarify whether we will hear an announcement from the Chancellor in the near future on supporting the installation of such systems? Even with the good news about potential vaccines, it will be a long time before most of the population are vaccinated, so what is the Secretary of State’s strategy to control covid over the coming year?

Matt Hancock

Our strategy is to suppress the virus and support the NHS and the economy until a vaccine can make us safe. Increased ventilation can help to reduce transmission, so it is an important consideration, among many others, for how we tackle this disease.