(The photo is of Magdalen College, Oxford: see explanation at end of article)
One of the main characteristics of the March 2012 Budget was its intense “sneakiness”: far reaching changes were buried in the detail or simply glossed over in the Chancellor’s speech. This meant that the very first reactions to the Budget were often incomplete: the ‘pasty tax’ and the ‘granny tax’ hit the headlines fast enough but the Government’s decision to place 20% VAT on alterations to Listed Buildings and deal with other ‘anomalies’ took a while to sink in.
The second main characteristic has been haste: the Chancellor has allowed HMRC to halve their normal consultation period (see previous article on this) thus severely denting the chances of organising a strong response. Thankfully a number of organisations like the Heritage Alliance and IHBC (Institute of Historic Building Conservation) are raising the flag but there are now only 13 days left to send responses to David Roberts, HMRC, VAT Projects Team, 3C/10, 100 Parliament Street, London, SWIA 2BQ.
The proposed changes will potentially impact on every Listed Building in the country and particularly on Christian places of worship. This is because a staggering 45% of Grade I Listed Buildings are churches or cathedrals. HMRC neatly bypass this statistic by claiming that their “evidence suggests that places of worship form only a small minority of the total number of listed properties in the UK” and they dismiss the overall macroeconomic impact as ‘negligible’. This view is hotly contested by those who have responsibility for the fabric of historic churches.
One of the main concerns is that these alterations often centre round the provision of a kitchen, or toilets or disabled access: in other words facilities to help churches serve the local community better.The Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, made an appeal about this a few days ago stating that alterations enabled visitor access, special needs groups, community space for meetings, social enterprise, even Post Offices:
The Church of England has also made representations to the Treasury. The Bishop of London has sent in a detailed letter and the wife of the Dean of Wakefield has composed and performed a complete VAT song in the environs of the cathedral itself!
Here in Suffolk there will be a gradual impact on the whole character of our county and an adverse affect on tourism: you only have to glance at the Visit Suffolk website to see what a strong part heritage plays in Suffolk’s general appeal to those who plan to make a trip here.
The Heritage Alliance is urging people to contact their MP’s, sign the relevant petitions and respond to HMRC. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The deadline for responses to HMRC is 4th May 2012
http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/32229 (Listed Churches)
Save our Heritage:Say No to VAT on Listed Buildings
I suppose we can understand George Osborne’s lack of appreciation for heritage: after all he only attended university at Magdalen College, Oxford (pictured at the start of this article) and works in the Houses of Parliament, within sight of Westminster Abbey.
Filed under: General Tagged: | "alterations to Listed Buildings", "Listed Churches", "March Budget 2012", 20% VAT, cathedrals, Chancellor, Cock Ups, General, George Osborne, Government, heritage, HMRC VAT Consultation, Listed Buildings, Suffolk, tourism