Delivering on VAT

The March 4th debate on VAT concluded with a major shift from the Government and signalled just how much of an impact our campaign has had. Previously the Treasury has been completely intransigent, but during the debate Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, was forced to admit the need for tax relief and to concede that a grant scheme targeting repairs, maintenance and energy efficiency was supported by government policy.

Norman came under fire from a coalition of MPs representing five parties pointing to the hypocrisy of the Government’s present approach. MPs argued that the Government’s existing position on conservation and carbon reduction makes clear that listed buildings should be offered public support, and that having a zero rate of VAT on demolition and new building went directly against these policies.

While Norman stood firm on a blanket VAT cut, he was pressed directly by Craig Mackinlay, Chair of the APPG for Listed Properties, about grant relief for VAT which is presently used in the Listed Places of Worship scheme. Norman’s response (right) showed a clear shift in position.

Norman backtracked from the Treasury’s 2012 position, arguing instead that the previous VAT relief had been removed simply because it wasn’t effective at supporting the owners with the day to day needs of their properties. He invited Craig to raise the issue of grant relief in future, and stated that this approach clearly fit with present Treasury thinking.

This is a huge shift, and one that the Club will be taking full advantage of in the coming months. Working through the APPG on Listed Properties we will be directly engaging with the Treasury to ensure this is followed up on. We are particularly keen to pursue a grant scheme as it would offer public support to all owners across the whole UK, whether their works were big or small.

This policy shift is a major success for our VAT campaign, but we need to build on it and keep the pressure up. It is critical that you write to your MP, and ask they support the campaign on tax and join the APPG on Listed Properties.

To read the full story, see the latest issue of Listed Heritage, the Club’s 160 page bi-monthly magazine. Every issue includes a dedicated section on our lobbying efforts, as well as news, features and technical guidance from across the heritage sector.

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Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury