Mobile Menu
From the organisers of
 

Report urges Government to equalise building VAT at 5%

15 January 2001

Pressure is mounting on the Government to end the anomaly that levies VAT at 17.5% on conservation work but at 0% on new build and alterations.

The latest call comes from an English Heritage-backed report entitled Power of Place. The report was handed to Arts Minister Alan Howarth and Housing & Planning Minister Nick Raynsworth in London last month.

The latest call comes from an English Heritage-backed report entitled Power of Place. The report was handed to Arts Minister Alan Howarth and Housing & Planning Minister Nick Raynsworth in London last month.

Conservation Plans specifically require the consideration of the \'significance\' of a heritage project to be considered in relation to its surroundings.

This has led the heritage industry to understand the greater significance of entire areas until now, in Power of Place, they propose the Government should put the historic environment at the heart of the social and economic well being of the country.

The report was produced by a Steering Group that brought together for the first time 20 of the leading organisations within the heritage sector.

The Group is not just concerned about existing historical buildings and places, either, because it sees new build as the heritage of the future and as such also to be considered in the context of the built heritage.

Sir Neil Cossons, chairman of English Heritage and of the Steering Group that produced Power of Place, said as he handed over the report to the Ministers in a soon-to-be-regenerated area of King\'s Cross that people valued not just individual buildings but the combination of streets, shops, houses and public spaces.

Everytime we accept poor design or even the mediocre instead of the excellent we are degrading the historic environment of the future, said Sir Neil.

Inevitably there was the suggestion that Government money could help. Sir Neil said England\'s historic built environment was a key asset for the tourism industry, taxes from which raised an estimated £3billion a year.

Just 2 Ω% of that would enable the backlog of repairs to Grade I and II* buildings to be cleared in 10 years rather than 60 at the current rate. And it would pay for every local authority to employ a conservation officer. And it would double the money available for local authority conservation grants. And it would restore nearly a third of the cuts in spending on parks in the past 10 years.

But the single most frequently raised issue in the consultation that resulted in Power of Place was, said Sir Neil, the question of VAT, a tax currently encouraging new build and alteration rather than conservation by zero rating new work while taxing repairs at 17.5%. Power of Place suggests a tax across the board of 5%.

Lord Rogers\' Urban Taskforce report Towards an Urban Renaissance, published in February last year, pointed out the same anomaly and called for the equalization of VAT on all new build, repair and alteration work at 7.5%.

That suggestion received the backing of Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, but as it involved increasing VAT on currently zero-rated work was never going to happen in the life of the current Government because Chancellor Gordon Brown had promised not to extend the scope of VAT before the next election.

With a general election looking certain to be held in May this year that restriction will soon be lifted and the Chancellor has already said he supports the idea of reducing VAT on work required to re-use existing properties.

 

Share this page