It set me thinking when I got the optician’s bill for some new lenses which the optician had fitted to old frames. Among the charges was nearly £20 that I must pay in value added tax. It is a tax upon my eyes.
I never knew I had bad eyes when I was a child. I thought that everyone saw fuzzy objects at modest distances and everyone saw halos around street lamps at night. I thought that everyone saw, heard, touched and smelt in the same ways. I could not conceive that someone might have seen something more clearly than me. I suppose life for me was a very large pauzzel. I knew when my father found out, At Greek Easter he took us to St Sophia in Moscow Road in London’s Bayswater, which in the early fifties was I think the only Greek Orthodox Church in London. In fact it is a cathedral. When you look up at its dome I remember a glided representation of Christ holding his hands above his head. He is in a field of gold and light streams in from windows in the dome. Around the base of the high dome is lettering in Greek which I believe to be a quote from the Bible but I could not then and still cannot speak or read Greek apart from the simplest words.
My father, who took every opportunity to educate me, even in Church at Easter, pointed out the lettering and asked me how many letters in the Greek alphabet could I see that were the same as letters in the English alphabet? I replied that I could not see the letters, so he discovered that I had bad sight and since then have worn glasses or contact lenses. I broke my first pair
At my present age, I wear glasses more often than contact lenses, but the eyes change and from time to time I need new glasses. In these hard times I decided to recycle an old frame for my newly changed eyes, and that is how I first found out about value added tax that people pay on poor eyes. Previously I had not known that in 2001 Mr Blair and Mr Brown decided that it would be fair to make this special tax on those of us you need glasses to see.
It cannot be right. I and millions of others in the United Kingdom need glasses. We cannot earn our living without them. Many of us would need a companion to safely navigate London’s streets without glasses. It would be illegal for most of us to drive a vehicle without glasses. Poor eyesight is a disability and those with poor eyesight have been blessed with the invention of glasses that can for most of a range of vision bring our eyesight into normality.
It is disabling enough to have bad eyesight, but if you have a disability you must cope with it and be thankful that it is not worse than it is. Taxing measures that help people cope with disability is immoral. It cannot be justified in any civilised society, whether the tax is £2 or £20 or £2000.