Government Response to reduce VAT

This response was given on 8 November 2018 –

We recognise the valuable contribution to UK Heritage made by owners of listed buildings. We continue to promote our country’s heritage and we will ensure that everyone can enjoy and benefit from it.

Protecting and making the most of the UK’s heritage is important for our economy and society. We released a Heritage Statement in 2017, setting out how we will support the heritage sector.

Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund provide advice and support for the conservation of heritage, including listed buildings. The government recognises the particular challenges faced by private owners of listed properties in planning regulations, and this is why we have introduced measures to streamline the listed buildings consent regime. These measures include giving local authorities the power to grant a general consent for minor works to listed buildings, this removes the need for specific applications for these types of works.

VAT is a broad-based tax on consumption and the standard rate of twenty per cent applies to most goods and services. While there are exceptions to the standard rate, these are strictly limited by domestic and EU law as well as by fiscal considerations. VAT is an important source of revenue which is used to fund the government’s public spending priorities including hospitals, schools and defense.

Under EU law, a reduced rate of five percent could be applied to alterations or repairs of buildings, but it would not be possible to limit this to alterations and repairs of only listed buildings. Introducing a reduced rate is estimated to cost the Exchequer at least £2.5 billion a year and this would have to be balanced by increased taxes elsewhere, reductions in government spending, or borrowing. While all taxes are kept under review, the government has no plans to change the VAT treatment of renovations and repairs at this time.

HM Treasury