6 April 2020
Source: Robert Browne
One of life’s great pleasures is the enjoyment of a great book. The words contained within the story can transport you to so many different places within the comfort, of your own home. Nowadays, of course in the modern world books are no-longer restricted to words written on a piece of paper and can instead be enjoyed in various formats, such as eBooks and audiobooks.
No-doubt many people were extremely happy hearing the current Conservative party Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announce in his Budget on Wednesday 11 March 2020 the 20% abolishment of value added tax (VAT) on eBooks in December 2020. But, unfortunately for Rishi Sunak, I was not one of them. Why you may ask? After all, as a fully sighted person this is great news for me, as I would save loads of money downloading all the books I can afford, as eBooks in December 2020, without paying VAT. But, as a mature law student currently studying a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) LLB (a qualifying law degree), at the Open University, I could see another side to Mr Sunak’s announcement that I considered to be unjust. After all, why should I benefit from his announcement, but visually impaired people could not, and must still pay VAT on audiobooks.
Surely, to be fair to all UK citizens VAT must also be abolished on audiobooks. It is important to understand that vision impairment is regarded as a disability and a protected characteristic, by the Equality Act 2010. I knew from my legal studies that section 13 of the Equality Act related to direct discrimination. This means that a person with a protected characteristic, such as vision impairment person should not be treated any differently to someone without any disability. In other words, this means a fully sighted person can enjoy a benefit that a visually impaired person cannot enjoy, because of their disability. And from December 2020 this will happen, as I will not have to pay any VAT on my eBooks purchases whilst a visually impaired person wanting to enjoy the exact same book in audiobook format, due to their disability must still pay VAT. Surely, it must be immoral in a modern-day civilised society to treat a disabled person, so differently.
As a law student I personally believe in fighting for a just cause against injustices especially if they relate to a person’s disability. I know first-hand growing up as a kid what this is like, as my late father in later life suffered from Multiple Sclerosis.
Because, of this injustice towards visually impaired people across the UK, I have started a petition titled
‘Petition for the Abolishment of Value Added Tax (VAT) on Audiobooks’ and if you agree with my argument then please do support it. Hopefully we can persuade the government to remove VAT on audiobooks, and not to discriminate against visually impaired people.