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E-petition to bring back zero rate VAT on alterations to listed churches

The Chancellor announced in the Budget that from 1 October 2012 approved alterations to listed buildings - which, unlike repairs and maintenance are currently zero-rated - will be charged at the standard rate of 20 percent. HMRC are consulting until 4 May 2012 and an e-petition has been launched by the Church of England.

Please sign the e-petition online now at: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/32229

The proposed changes to VAT will cost the Church of England up to £20 million per annum on works to its 12,500 listed church buildings, assuming, of course, parishes and cathedrals can now afford to go ahead and undertake the works required.

The 20 percent VAT charge will negatively impact on bell restoration projects and organ building - both traditional craft industries, where some schemes currently enjoy zero rating. In addition to, this is a real blow to communities seeking to maintain and develop their churches (including improved lavatory, kitchen, disability and energy saving facilities) to enable churches to be more widely used by the community.

The day after the Budget the Bishop of London and Second Church Estates Commissioner wrote to the Chancellor asking him to keep alterations to listed churches zero-rated.

The accompanying Treasury Document also stated that the Government was ‘extending’ the scope of the Grant Scheme administered by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to include alterations. It did not; however specify any increase in funding of the scheme. Without a cash increase to the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme, which is already inadequate to cover all repair claims, the current scheme will simply be divided into even smaller amounts among a larger group of claimants. So, far from being additional help for churches, the effect of the extension will be to reduce the proportion of the VAT costs refunded for repairs and maintenance.

How you can help

If you’re unsure of who to write to click here to find out the name/address of your local MP.

Please act quickly as the Consultation closes on 4 May 2012.

Sandra Underwood
Hon Secretary
Lincoln Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers