SNP MSP for Cunninghame South, Ruth Maguire, has branded the UK Tory government’s decision to allow the temporary suspension of VAT on personal protective equipment (PPE) to expire as “shocking”.

VAT on PPE was cut to 0% in May following a campaign from trade union groups and opposition parties, with the cut applying to items such as face masks and aprons.

It was initially due to return to 20% in August, but was extended until October 31.

The Tories ’planned changes mean that businesses, charities and individuals in North Ayrshire will now be slapped with extra charges when purchasing essential PPE to protect against the COVID-19.

Commenting, local SNP MSP Ruth Maguire said: “The UK government’s decision to slap extra charges on the cost of essential PPE in the middle of a global pandemic is absolutely shocking.

“Right now, cases are rising across the UK and the safety of our key workers and care providers in North Ayrshire is more important than ever.

“Many local businesses are struggling just to get by, and our care sector is already stretched as they deal with the Covid-19 crisis. The last thing anyone needs right now is to be penalised for protecting themselves or their staff.

“Boris Johnson must reverse this decision before these changes come into effect at the end of this week.”