A petition has been launched which echoes our calls for VAT to be removed on services provided by counsellors and psychotherapists.

We’ve long been campaigning for a VAT exemption for counselling and psychotherapy and believe now is a critical time for this to happen as the country continues to deal with the mental health impact of the pandemic.

Our call featured in our submission to the PSA consultation on the future of the Accredited Register programme in March; our submission to the consultation around the Comprehensive Spending Review and our response to the Treasury Select Committee’s inquiry into tax after coronavirus.

We also made the case in a joint-letter with BPC and UKCP to HMRC in February; in a letter to the Chancellor ahead of last year’s summer statement and as one of our asks at the 2019 General Election.

Crucial role

Martin Bell, our Head of Policy and Public Affairs, said: “Counsellors and psychotherapists have a crucial role in helping people recover from the devastating consequences of this pandemic.

“VAT is an additional cost to counselling and psychotherapy that represents a significant barrier to vulnerable people accessing vital mental health support when they need it.

“We believe removing VAT will help increase access to therapy, which is why we welcome this new petition and urge people to add their support.

“Anything that provides or makes it easier for people to access mental health support should be encouraged.”

Our member Jo Gee has set up the petition to make mental health treatment VAT exempt. It runs until September.

Jo, who is based in Guildford, said it was anomalous that counselling psychologists, for instance, could offer VAT exempt services, but not counsellors or psychotherapists. 

She added that if counsellors or psychotherapists reach the VAT threshold they’re faced with absorbing the cost themselves or passing it on to clients.

Access to therapies

“VAT is a hard hit at a time when client need is so great,” Jo said. “Government policies are all around mental resilience, increasing access to therapies and trauma work through Covid, but private therapists aren’t allowed to carry on working in the same way as their direct colleagues such as counselling psychologists and clinical psychologists.

“This is a client-facing tax and I don’t think it’s ethical on reaching the VAT threshold to add a 20% charge. That makes it inaccessible for many.

“I’ve spoken to many colleagues and therapists lose that income instead of jeopardising their client work therapeutically.”

Our member Jo Gee has launched a petition to make mental health treatment VAT exempt

Our member Jo Gee has launched a petition to make mental health treatment VAT exempt

Jo added: “It’s not a huge amount of money for the government to find but the effect could be huge.

“I’m dealing with so much social anxiety, health anxiety, and we’re attempting to feed into the system and treat these people who need help.

“If people are able to go to work because they have emotional support, then the economy flows – it all feeds into it.”