The Heritage Alliance is lobbying MPs to support an amendment to the Finance Bill in a last-ditch attempt to derail the ‘heritage tax’ that will add 20 per cent to the cost of renovating listed buildings.
The Alliance has briefed MPs ahead of the report stage of the Bill, which will see the VAT change debated in the House of Commons tonight. It is calling for a full review of the evidence and impacts of the removal of the VAT exemption, and has been calling on MPs to support an amendment that has been tabled calling for a full review of impacts.
Following publication of the government’s latest proposals on the measure on Friday, the Alliance said: “We recognise government has made several not insignificant concessions, but these are not enough.
“Of the six ‘borderline anomalies’ addressed in the HMRC consultation, the measure on approved alterations to listed buildings attracted the largest number of responses – 818 responses out of a total of 1,493 – 55 per cent.
“Yet government has largely ignored these voices….this confirms our prediction that government sees listed buildings stakeholders as a soft target – a disparate constituency of owners, charities and communities spread across the country.”
The group points out that HMRC does not indicate whether, apart from the £30m added to the listed places of worship scheme, the revenue derived from abolishing this tax relief will be given back to supporting heritage.
“If not, removing this VAT tax concession is a severe blow to those investing in our historic environment.”
The Alliance contends that HMRC’s response does not defend the rigour of its evidence base, does not refer to the public benefit of listed buildings, and does not admit the measure is at odds with other government policies, such as the asset transfer agenda, the National Planning Policy Framework, and the Big Society.
The Heritage Alliance represents represents 92 national and regional members, from larger bodies such as the National Trust, to many smaller organisations such as the Association of Building Preservation Trusts – which are supported by over five million members, thousands of local groups and over 450,000 volunteers.