Editor’s Easter Comment – The March Budget

Our article on the March Budget this month, which can be found here if you haven’t read it yet, reveals changes to listed buildings and VAT that are being met with vociferous disquiet from interested parties.

Church of England Churches, for example, account for 45% of all Grade 1 listed buildings in the UK. Vicars and Bishops, Deans and Reverends are up in arms about the changes, which could significantly increase costs in incredibly expensive refurbishment projects. Wakefield Cathedral, for instance, faces severe difficulties in bringing into fruition their £5m renovation scheme.

Nevertheless, those following that particular story will be hopeful that a song recorded by the wife of the Wakefield Dean, and now warbling away on computer screens all over the UK since its introduction onto Youtube, melts Mr Osborne’s heart. Or at least makes him think long and hard about the 5000+ signatures on a petition that will soon grace his desk.

The issue, as I see it, is not that the reduction was brought about on unfair grounds; the lack of VAT on ‘alterations’ to listed buildings was an unbalance that has caused much confusion over what precisely is an alteration, and what is repair and maintenance. A standard rate for all works to Listed buildings seems sensible then, but penalising non-profit organisations for investing large and precious sums into preserving our very heritage is not the right way to go about things.

Having a nil rate of VAT for works carried out by not-for-profit organisations on listed buildings would solve the problem and create a cut and dry situation where every one knows when VAT is charged and when it is not.

Quite evidently, the Chancellor is desperate for tax where he can get it, but perhaps a more prosperous economic climate of the future will bring about a change in policy over this issue once again. As a surveyor with a special interest in old and listed buildings, it would be a crying shame to see much needed projects put in jeopardy over the (relatively) small matter of a few million in tax.

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