The punitive 20% VAT rate on listed buildings repairs should be slashed by three quarters, said UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall.

UKIP is the first political party to pledge abolishing the discriminatory 20% tax introduced by George Osborne in his 2012 Budget, and replacing it with a rate of 5%. 

“None of the other parties are committed to abolishing that VAT rate in their manifestos. We believe that abolishing the 20% rate is essential for maintaining Britain’s historic architectural heritage, which is the envy of the world and includes several ‘jewels’ in the North West,” said Mr Nuttall, the region’s MEP.

“Many buildings, from castles to cottages are crumbling away whilst the Treasury unfairly rewards developers of new buildings with zero VAT rates.

“This 20% VAT discriminates against not only the heritage tourism economy but also those who want to simply improve and repair their homes.”

There are 374,081 listed buildings in England, a further 47,000 in Scotland and 20.592 in Wales. Over 50% of Grade 1 listed buildings are churches. Although listed buildings are often perceived as being owned by families with historic houses – often open to the public- the reality is that listed buildings owners come from a very diverse socio-economic groups.

“It is not just the operators of the heritage tourism sector and listed homeowners who will benefit by reducing the VAT rate for listed buildings repair and maintenance to 5%,” said Mr Nuttall.

The other group are the skilled British builders and other skilled craftsman – plasterers, bricklayers, stone masons, thatchers and carpenters whose traditional skills and businesses have been hard hit by the 20% VAT rate since 2012.

Many small self-employed local builders and architectural and specialist building  firms have been forced out of business by larger contractors who rely on less skilled, non-British born workers who will work for a cheaper wage.

The current 20% VAT rate charged in the UK on repairs and maintenance is the most onerous VAT rate in Europe for heritage repairs. This compares with much lower rates across Europe: Belgium 6; France: 7%; Germany: 19%; Greece: 18%; Ireland: 12.5%; Italy 10%; Netherlands; 6% Portugal; 6% Spain: 8%;  Switzerland; 7.5%.

“Listed buildings provide accommodation for over 1 million Britons, yet the issue is on the fringes of the political debate. Considering the importance of listed buildings to people’s livelihood and the large cultural contribution they make this must change,” said Mr Nuttall.

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