VAT break puts cathedral renovation back on track
Published 02 July 2012
Officials at Wakefield Cathedral have breathed a sigh of relief after HMRC announced last week that it would not charge VAT on alterations announced before the Budget.
The cathedral was among the critics of Chancellor George Osborne’s decision to charge VAT on alterations to Grade I listed buildings.
With Church of England churches accounting for around 45% of all the Grade I listed buildings in England and Wales, there was concern that many alteration projects would have to be cancelled.
Following complaints from churches, HMRC announced that transitional arrangements for zero-rated VAT on alterations to cathedral and church buildings would be extended to cover all schemes which had already applied for approval from Church authorities prior to the Budget.
The transitional period will be extended until 30 September 2015, allowing qualifying projects to benefit from zero rating for a further three and a half years.
The Dean of Wakefield Cathedral, the Very Rev Jonathan Greener, said he was “delighted” by the announcement.
“It confirms that our present project can proceed without any additional VAT burden. That is an enormous relief for all of us associated with Wakefield Cathedral,” he said.
However, Rev Greener said he was very concerned about the next phases of the cathedral renovation project, as these will not be covered by the transitional arrangements.
He also expressed concern about the impact of the VAT change on listed non-church buildings that play a “vital” part in “shaping our nation’s life and character”.
He said: “I hope the Government will listen to the widespread public concern about listed buildings, and reverse the disastrous proposals from the Budget which have been introduced in haste but will have such long-term negative impact on our heritage.”
Wakefield Cathedral’s £3 million renovation project got underway six months ago. Work has so far been done to improve accessibility to the cathedral and repair the stone work.
Archaeological excavations carried out at the site ahead of the development work have unearthed human remains, stone and wooden coffins, and possible walls from an earlier building. The items are being recorded and tours are being offered to allow members of the public to view the discoveries.
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