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Campaigners call for cost of sunscreen to be slashed to prevent skin cancer

Campaigners want access to affordable sunscreen for sunny days.
Campaigners want access to affordable sunscreen for sunny days.

Calls are being made to cut the cost of sunscreen to prevent more people developing skin cancer.

Sunscreen is classed as a cosmetic product in the UK, meaning it is subject to 20% VAT.

Campaigners want this to be changed, saying people are pleading for sunscreen at foodbanks because they cannot afford to buy it themselves.

They hope by reclassifying sunscreen as an essential healthcare item it can be exempt from taxation, bringing the cost down by a fifth.

‘Sunscreen isn’t a cosmetic’

A survey by the Co-operative Party found 79% of people agree there should be no VAT on sunscreen.

Sandra Macdonald, among the campaigners, said: “Sunscreen isn’t a cosmetic – it’s essential.

“Taking tax off sunscreen and making it more affordable will encourage more people to wear it regularly.

“The cost is a barrier to people buying sunscreen and we have evidence of people going to foodbanks and asking if they have any sunscreen.

“If the cost came down by 20% it would make it so much more affordable and people would use it more.”

‘It is not a cheap product to buy’

The campaigner, a councillor in Aberdeen, said removing VAT could also have a huge impact on people’s health by helping to prevent skin cancer.

She said: “Prevention is always better than cure – anything that is going to help with skin cancer is more than welcome.

Sunscreen has 20% VAT added to it

“It is not a cheap product to buy and I always like to lather my children in it.

“During the extreme weather of the last few weeks I have seen a lot of people with sore burnt shoulders and I wonder, is that because they are not taking enough care or do they not have sunscreen on because they can’t afford it?”

90% of skin cancers are preventable

Despite not being classified as an essential healthcare product already, Cancer Research UK says everyone in the UK should be “generously” wearing sunscreen of at least SPF15.

Skin cancer is caused when too much ultraviolet radiation from the sun causes damage to the DNA in skin cells.

The charity says 90% of skin cancers could be prevented by staying safe in the sun.

According to research from Tesco 59% of adults think sunscreen is too expensive and 29% said they would wear it daily if it cost a little bit less.

And a further 31% of parents said they sometimes can’t afford to apply sunscreen to the whole family so often they only give it to their children.

‘We have acted’, says UK Government

The UK Government says it has acted in other ways to ensure families have enough money to buy sunscreen for themselves.

A spokesman for HM Treasury said: “We understand that people are struggling with rising prices which is why we have acted to protect the eight-million most vulnerable British families through at least £1,200 of direct payments this year with additional support for pensioners and those claiming disability benefits.

“Through our £37 billion support package we are also saving the typical employee over £330 a year through July’s national insurance cut, allowing people on Universal Credit to keep £1,000 more of what they earn and cutting fuel duty by 5p – the biggest ever cut to fuel duty rates which saves a typical family £100.”

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