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VAT lobby on alterations

Vital alterations to churches should be not be compared to installing luxury swimming pools, says Dean of Wakefield's wife (above) and Second Church Estates Commissioner (below)


VAT_TeamIn a new CofE podcast published today ( http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/follow-us-online/podcasts.aspx), Tony Baldry MP, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, says he is confident that the Government wants churches to be able to adapt their facilities - in order to deliver the Big Society agenda - and not be penalised by new VAT rulings.

Church leaders including Mr Baldry and the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, met with Chancellor George Osborne yesterday to express concern about Government plans to apply standard rate VAT (currently zero-rated) to approved alterations to listed buildings.  The meeting was also attended by Anne Sloman, Chair of the Church Buildings Division, and director Janet Gough.

Speaking afterwards Mr Baldry said he was confident the Government did want to find a way forward that differentiated between churches carrying out vital alterations and rich people in Grade I listed houses installing swimming pools. He said he thought it was significant that both the Chancellor and Executive Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke attended the meeting.

A national e-petition calling on the Government to bring back zero rate VAT to alterations to the CofE's 12,500 listed churches has already attracted more than 18,000 signatures and Mr Baldry says churches should encourage their members to sign up. "The Government does take note of public opinion," he said.  http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/32229 

Janet Gough, director of the Cathedral and Church Buildings Division of the Archbishops' Council, said: "The Church understands the Government's wish to close unfair tax loopholes for owners of listed houses - who may want to install swimming pools - but  the provision of zero-rated VAT for alterations to listed places of worship is not a tax loophole. It is the Big Society in action."

The Dean of Wakefield's wife Pamela Greener wrote and performed a campaigning ditty in the demolished nave of Wakefield Cathedral as part of the CofE campaign to halt Government VAT plans unveiled in the budget. The YouTube recording has proved a huge hit and in song explains their project will cost £200,000 more under the proposed new regulations. http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/04/going-for-a-song-cofe-youtube-recording-calls-on-government-to-bring-back-zero-rate-vat-on-alterations-to-listed-buildings.aspx 

Photo. Tony Baldry MP (second right) is joined at the Treasury by (left to right) Anne Sloman, Chair of the Church Buildings Council, the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres and Janet Gough.