Open Letter to the Chancellor

Rt Hon George Osborne MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer
HM Treasury
1 Horse Guards Road
London, SW1A 2HQ

14 June 2012

Dear Chancellor,

Despite recent u-turns on a VAT hike for pasties and caravans, the Treasury is still planning a 20%
tax rise that will damage the nation's finest and most loved buildings. Worse still, this tax rise is
based on completely insufficient evidence. When the Treasury announced plans to remove the
current VAT relief on approved alterations to listed buildings in the Budget it stated that the
majority of the work covered by the relief was not necessary for heritage purposes. A Freedom of
Information request has subsequently revealed that this was based on a sample of just 105 cases
despite the fact there are almost 30,000 Listed Building Consent applications during the course of a

Since the Budget, ministers have repeatedly told MPs and the public that this VAT increase was
about stopping millionaires installing swimming pools tax free. When we looked at a sample of
12,049 recent applications for listed building consent from across the UK, we found only 34
applications for swimming pools. According to the clear guidance from HMRC less than half of these
had any chance of qualifying for the VAT relief.

50% of people who live in listed buildings are in socio-economic groups C1, C2, D and E. So why
does the Treasury continue to feed MPs with the swimming pool line and encourage them to send it
on to angry constituents who are rightly concerned about the future of the buildings they cherish,
care for and rely on?

The decision to provide additional compensation to listed places of worship demonstrates the
Government’s admission that the VAT increase will put our historic buildings at risk, but offers
nothing to help community centres, town halls, village halls or privately owned listed buildings.  
We are already seeing evidence of projects that have been cancelled or put on hold as charities
worry about how to raise an additional 20% and projects become unaffordable. This is having a
negative impact on the construction industry at a time when weak demand is holding back wider
economic recovery.

As Chancellor, we want you to recognise the risks are simply too high to carry on as planned and
therefore we call on you to review the proposed implementation of VAT on alterations to listed
buildings before it is introduced – before it is too late.

Yours sincerely,

Yvonne Orgill
Bathroom Manufacturers Association