Some of the statements above have been somewhat simplified. Some MR team purchases are VAT free - medical equipment, vehicles and their conversion to ambulances are all VAT free. Jackets, ropes, fuel, and everything else is VAT chargeable. The RNLI is in a similar boat (pun intended), although their vessels and boat fuel is VAT free. They do have to pay VAT on ancillary items such as clothing, lifeboiat station, launch vehicle fuel etc
The no VAT for MR teams has been tested before, it failed because it would fall foul of EC law. Didn't stop one Tory MP claiming a victory of no-VAT for MR teams. As a result a small capital equipment grant is paid to MR (England and Wales). This equates to a few hundred quid to each team annually.
When you consider the running costs of my local team are about £18k per annum, that's without replacing any kit or capital equipment, that is an awful lot of tin rattling. Teams are incredibly good value for money, it would make sense for some sort of direct funding. (There are some voices within MR which would utterly refuse any central funding)
I doubt the e-petition will go anywhere but it won't harm to support.
RNLI is one charity, centrally funded and top down. They employ fundraisers and some admin staff. Mountain Rescue is completely different. Each team is independent, and a charity in its own right, and fundraises for itself. There are regional 'councils' for want of a better word which help organise the area as a whole, and is in itself a seperate charity. Then there is the national 'council' MR(EW) which is also a seperate charity. It would make a lot more sense to adopt the top down model but that would be very unlikely to happen.