If you are lucky enough to own a Listed building the obligations bestowed on you are significant. You are a custodian of something special – this really is one of those things where you are just looking after a place for another generation – hopefully.
Other than the pleasure of having something special in building terms – there aren’t many advantages. Planning can be a headache. Rapirs can be expensive. You might need permission to blow your nose.
The upside always was that the Government helped you in mitigating some of the costs. Owners of Listed buildings were exempt from paying VAT on the cost of alterations and repairs.
But this Government have decided that this exemption is an ‘anomaly’ and are doing away with the exemption from 1st October 2012. So you get to pay the VAT from October.
I think this is a very short sighted decision. It is really important that we look after these buildings – they form a key part of the fabric of a place. These buildings are part of our heritage.
The burdens of ownership can be significant. So, the VAT ‘anomaly’ was a step in the direction of helping an owner. If we make it more expensive for people to maintain these structures we might see corners cut – or worse still, money stopping being spent. I’m not sure that the Government have grasped that repairs to Listed Buildings are generally more expensive – often requiring specialist materials or skilled trades? The VAT status in some way helped bridge that gap.
Sadly this Government didn’t think so. So whilst we are happy spending £27bn on a ‘legacy olympics’ they want to raise £125m from this latest tax rise? Sorry, I just don’t get it!