'Duty' to save our buildings from disrepair
The Government has a duty to save our historic buildings from disrepair and needs to abandon its Budget plan to add 20 per cent VAT to listed building alterations, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
"The VAT increase is not actually about addressing an anomaly in the tax system it's about the Government trying to raise more money," said Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB.
"There is a lack of evidence to justify the Government's claim that the majority of alterations are not 'necessary for heritage purposes'.
There were more than 29,000 listed building consent decisions between March 2010 and March last year, but the Government has chosen not to take the time to properly consider the evidence available."
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Mr Berry voiced concerns that the Government has "offered nothing" to protect the majority of listed buildings.
He said: "It is frustrating that the Government has already admitted this VAT increase is likely to harm our historic buildings by offering additional compensation to listed churches, but has offered nothing to help protect the majority of our listed buildings in rural and urban settings across the UK.
"And on top of the risk to our heritage is the risk to the construction sector. The increase to 20 per cent in the standard rate of VAT in January last year caused a fall in demand for all housing repair, maintenance and improve- ment work and our research has suggested that more than 10,000 jobs were lost in the economy by the end of last year as a direct result of this lower level of demand.
"Why is the Government risking further job losses when its priority is to restore economic growth?"
It is, Mr Berry concluded, about "restoring trust".
He said: "The Government could do a lot to restore the trust of small businesses, charities and communities by allowing time for proper consultation before rushing into significant tax changes such as this one.
"The need is even greater in this case where the increase will apply retrospectively."