The cost of face masks and other items of personal protective equipment (PPE) are set to rise from next month as the VAT on sales is reportedly to come back into force.

The Treasury had put a freeze on the 20 per cent tax to help combat the spread of Covid-19 in May, with the cut applying to items purchased by care homes, businesses, charities and individuals to protect against the virus.

It was initially due to return to be taxed at the full amount in August, but was extended until October 31 with the cost to the Treasury over the six months estimated to be around £255 million.

At the time, Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman had said: "Extending the zero VAT rate on PPE will provide the relief needed by care homes in particular, so that as many people as possible continue to be protected against the coronavirus."

A portal offering free PPE for social and primary care providers was set up in June

It's been reported that the tax break is unlikely to be extended.

A portal offering free PPE for social and primary care providers was set up in June, but businesses and members of the public will have to pay the reintroduced levy.

James Bielby, chief executive of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, told the Guardian: "There couldn't be a worse time to inflict extra costs on the food supply chain.

"The reasons for introducing a zero rate haven't changed, and we face months of further Covid-19 measures.
"It's disappointing that the zero rate isn't being continued for as long as Covid restrictions on trade are in place."