EU import tax on mobility scooters a 'disgrace' says Councillor

September 30, 2009 12:00 AM

Councillor David Clayton alongside local residents Reggie Lane and Leslie TaylorKingsway Councillor David Clayton has condemned the European Union (EU) for imposing an import tax on mobile scooters by classifying them in the same category as Formula 1 racing cars.

The World Customs Organisation, which advises governments on import duties, recently issued a document recommending that scooters should be taxed, as they could be used by people without disabilities.

Although many countries, including the US, have rejected the advice, the EU decided to accept it, and has put the scooters in the same tax classification as Formula 1 cars.

Ever since the scooters were first invented 30 years ago they have been classed as equipment for the disabled, making them exempt from tax. However, the EU, which has the power to set import duties for all member states, intends to enforce a 10 per cent import tax on scooters.

Councillor David Clayton said: "This decision by the EU is an absolute disgrace and unfortunately it will have an immediate impact on the number of disabled people who can afford to buy mobile scooters. Scooters provide many disabled people in Rochdale with a means of independence. To suggest that scooters are not just for disabled people is ridiculous. Charities, which are already stretched hard in meeting the needs of disabled people will be hit hard by this thoughtless decision."

Local disabled resident Reggie Lane, who raised the issue with Councillor Clayton, said: "For many of us with disabilities, a mobility scooter is literally a lifeline - without it we are locked out further from the world around us. To tax the most disadvantaged in society in this way is simply disgraceful."

Rochdale MP Paul Rowen, who is also backing the campaign, said: "The 10% charge is nothing more than a direct tax on the disabled. Quite why the EU feels the need to discriminate against disabled people and the charities that support them is beyond me. I will be writing to the Chancellor Alistair Darling and colleagues in the EU urging them to seek support for member states to get this terrible tax decision reversed."