DAVID BLUNKETT, the former Labour Home Secretary, wants guide dogs to be classified by the Government as “working dogs” in order to qualify for an exemption from VAT on the price of their dog food.

As it stands guide dogs are described as “pets” by the Government, which means VAT is charged at a rate of 20 per cent on food bought for them. However, should they be classified as “working dogs” – a status that applies to racing greyhounds – guide dogs would be eligible for a zero rate of VAT on their food. Other dogs that can be described as “working dogs” are working sheep dogs and working gun dogs.

Food products which are manufactured for general sale to all breeds and size of dog are rated at 20 per cent but foods specially formulated and held out for sale exclusively to working dogs is zero rated.

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association believes the Government is wrong to consider guide dogs simply as “pets”. Blunkett, whose black curly coat retriever Labrador guide dog Cosby is a constant companion, says the situation is an injustice.