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Campaigners fight scrapping of VAT zero rating on listed building alterations
12:10pm Friday 4th May 2012 in Business Daily
The CLA, whose members look after a third of all listed buildings in England and Wales, is stepping up its campaign against the Government’s decision to remove the VAT zero rating on alterations to listed buildings.
The association said the decision would hit Britain’s heritage with an additional tax burden of £125 million each year, jeopardising projects such as converting redundant buildings into housing and creating community buildings.
It would also disrupt the continual programme of works to churches, historic houses and monuments, said the CLA.
It has already met the Minister responsible for VAT, briefed MPs and pressed for changes to the Finance Bill, which is seeing through the Budget’s proposals.
To help harness public opinion the CLA has joined forces with other organisations, including the Historic Houses Association (HHA), the Heritage Alliance and the Cut-the-VAT Coalition. All are calling on the Government to reverse the decision.
In the Midlands, the CLA and HHA are working together to achieve their common aim.
Chairman of the Heart of England HHA, Caroline Magnus, said: “The zero rating of VAT on alterations to listed buildings provided an incentive for owners to adapt them to make them fit for modern use.
“Listed buildings are disproportionately expensive to maintain and this is virtually the only concession available to help alleviate the increased costs of ownership, particularly as 20 per cent VAT is already levied on all repairs.
“Removing this concession is likely to discourage owners from embarking on projects which will give historic buildings a viable future.
“It will also dissuade potential buyers of listed buildings in need of rescue. This could well lead to a downturn in the conservation building industry, with skilled contractors losing their jobs and opportunities for employment in traditional craft skills lost.
“All the effort and investment that has gone into combating the perceived skills shortages in recent years will have been for nothing.
“Historic house owners are dedicated to keeping their properties in good repair and to ensuring they have a viable future. In rural communities, historic houses are often a major source of economic activity and employment in the area.”
CLA director Midlands, Caroline Bedell, said: “This is clearly a revenue-raising measure that puts our heritage at risk and will alienate many owners, as the disadvantages of listing considerably outweigh the few, if any, remaining benefits.”