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Budget 2012: 20 percent VAT on alterations to listed churches

Sign the petition to reverse the decision, which will be a big blow to local communities and cost the Church of England up to £20 million

Unexpectedly 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.

This 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.

This is a real blow to communities who are 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 20 percent VAT charge will also negatively impact bell hanging and organ building, both traditional craft industries, where some schemes currently enjoy zero rating.

Jemma Metcalfe-Gibson, Historic Buildings Support Officer from the Churches Trust for Cumbria, spoke to BBC Radio Cumbria about the potential impact of the decision.

"We'd like to hear from people who are going to be affected by this, so we can build a better picture of the impact," she said.

Listen again to the interview on the BBC Radio Cumbria website (interview starts at 2:14:34, available until Saturday 7 April)

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.

Action you can take:

Read more about this at the Church of England website.

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