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Sun Protection Products: Affordability

Volume 733: debated on Tuesday 6 June 2023

4. If he will make an assessment with Cabinet colleagues of the potential impact of increasing the affordability of sun protection products on levels of skin cancer. (905210)

Last month was melanoma month and skin cancer month, and people are increasingly aware of the risks of excessive sun exposure without protection. Through the energy price guarantee and our direct support for vulnerable households, we have provided cost of living help worth, on average, £3,300 per household.

Since the early 1990s cases of skin cancer have doubled, with nearly 16,000 new cases diagnosed each year leading to 2,300 avoidable deaths annually. If some products were more affordable, more of our constituents might be able to use them and bring those numbers down. Will the ministerial team make representations to their Treasury colleagues about the Sun Protection Products (Value Added Tax) Bill, a private Member’s Bill promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for East Dunbartonshire (Amy Callaghan) which would remove VAT from some sun protection products, so that we can start to make an impact on those appalling figures?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, tax matters are for the Treasury, but we are absolutely committed to providing cost of living support. By the end of June the Government will have covered nearly half a typical household’s energy bill since October, so we are providing one of the most generous packages in Europe.

The last time I asked Ministers whether they would support that Bill I was told that the issue of VAT and skin cancer was a matter for the Treasury, and we have just heard a similar answer. Surely this is a matter for joined-up government. What are Ministers doing—instead of imposing more pressure and costs on the NHS—to persuade their Treasury colleagues to consider more cost-effective cost preventive measures such as making skin protection products more affordable?

The hon. Gentleman is campaigning for a reduction in the VAT on suncream, but let me put this into perspective. As I have said, our cost of living support is worth, on average, £3,300 per household. That is help on a huge scale. On cancer we are taking more action across the piece, and more people are being given life-saving checks, referrals and treatment than before.