From 1 October 2004, the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) requires service providers to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to their premises to tackle any physical features that prevent disabled people from using their services.
What is reasonable will vary in different situations. It may depend on the type of service being provided and the size and resources of the service provider. It could be as simple as using contrasting colours to help visually impaired people distinguish walls from doors, lowering a counter to make it more accessible to a wheelchair user or providing better lighting and clearer signs.
Plant and Machinery Allowances (PMAs)
PMAs allow the cost of expenditure on certain capital assets to be written off against a business’s taxable profits. They take the place of depreciation charged in the commercial accounts. Commercial depreciation is not allowed for tax.
The cost of items such as hoists, lifts or evac chairs qualifies for PMAs. Similarly, toilets and basins, including those specially designed for use by disabled people, qualify for PMAs.
From 1 April 2008 the main rates of PMAs for expenditure on qualifying plant and machinery are:
- 20 per cent a year on a reducing balance basis for general spending on qualifying plant and machinery
- 10 per cent a year on a reducing balance basis for qualifying plant and machinery with a useful economic life, when new, of more than 25 years, or integral features, see below
From 1 April 2008 a new Annual Investment Allowance has been introduced for the first £50,000 of expenditure on qualifying plant and machinery (other than cars) in a particular year. It provides a 100 per cent allowance for the first £50,000 of investment on qualifying plant and machinery (other than motor cars) in a year to all businesses regardless of size. It replaces the existing 40 or 50 per cent first-year allowances for investments in plant or machinery by small or medium-sized enterprises.
Alterations to the fabric of buildings
Expenditure on structural alterations to a building does not qualify for any capital allowances, unless the building is an industrial or agricultural building or qualifying hotel. In those cases, the expenditure may qualify under the Industrial Building Allowance (IBA) code or the Agricultural Building Allowance (ABA) code. Examples of such structural works are installation of a permanent access ramp or the enlargement of a doorway to facilitate wheelchair access.
Expenditure may also be also incurred on making alterations to an existing building when installing qualifying plant or machinery, such as an air conditioning unit. However, such expenditure only qualifies for capital allowances if there is a direct link between the incurring of the expenditure on the alterations and the plant or machinery said to have given rise to that expenditure.
Expenditure on building or installing a permanent ramp to facilitate access by members of the public qualifies only if the work is carried out to an industrial or agricultural building or ‘qualifying hotel’. Relief is given for the expenditure under the IBA code or agricultural buildings allowance ABA code.
Businesses that buy moveable ramps that are not permanently fixed to the building are able to claim PMAs on the cost of the ramp.
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