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Campaigners petition Government to scrap VAT on sunscreen

Campaigners are calling for the scrapping of VAT on factor 30+ sunscreen to make it more affordable and reduce cases of skin cancer.

VAT on sunscreen

Charities have stepped up their pressure on the Government to remove VAT from sunscreen with a petition handed to Downing Street, arguing many people struggle to afford the “essential” product.

The petition – signed by 62 MPs, 143 skin cancer patients, 85 healthcare professionals and 163 supporters – was delivered to Number 10 on Tuesday, calling for the scrapping of VAT on factor 30+ sunscreen to make it more affordable and reduce cases of skin cancer.

Melanoma skin cancer diagnoses across all age groups have reached a record high – with 17,500 people diagnosed each year in the UK.

Campaigners deliver a petition calling for VAT to be removed from sunscreen to 10 Downing Street (VAT Burn/PA)

Melanoma is the UK’s fifth most common cancer, but 86% of these skin cancers could be prevented, according to Cancer Research UK.

The VAT Burn campaign said sunscreen was a key tool in preventing skin cancer, as well as covering up and staying out of the sun during the heat of the day and avoiding the use of sunbeds.

However, with continued pressures on household budgets, many people were struggling to afford the product, which is classified as a “cosmetic” product and carries a 20% tax.

Research by Melanoma Focus, one of the charities involved in the campaign, earlier this year suggests that 50% of UK adults think sunscreen is too expensive and 67% would use it more if it was cheaper.

The survey also found that 10% of people do not use sunscreen at all because of the cost, and those on the lowest incomes are less likely to wear sunscreen than any other economic group.

Melanoma Focus chief executive Susanna Daniels said: “Skin cancers like melanoma can be deadly, but they are largely preventable.

“The VAT Burn campaign has developed because sunscreen is an important weapon in the fight against melanoma and other forms of skin cancer, but many people are struggling to afford this vital product.

“Our research has found that removing the cost of VAT from sunscreen and making it 20% cheaper will increase its use significantly and therefore reduce cases of melanoma and other skin cancers.”

Lucy Davis, from Walthamstow, London, was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer in 2011.

Despite having treatment, the cancer spread to her liver and lymph nodes and she was given a stage 4 diagnosis.

She said: “I’ve found living with melanoma terrifying and I think it’s appalling that sunscreen is considered a luxury product when it’s so crucial for protecting against this deadly disease.

“I hate the thought of families being priced out of using sunscreen.

“Any price reduction would send a strong message about the importance of sunscreen for preventing skin cancer.”

SNP MP Amy Callaghan (East Dunbartonshire), who has previously been diagnosed with melanoma but is now cancer free, said: “Every year, more than 17,000 people across the UK are diagnosed with melanoma, and it takes the lives of 2,300 people.

“However, 86% of these cases are preventable if simple sun protection measures, including using factor 30+ sunscreen, are taken.

“We’re urging the Government to make high-factor sunscreen more affordable and to educate the public on how to best protect their skin.”

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