Letter: We should not let the Treasury throw away our beautiful heritage

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THE PROPOSED imposition of VAT to work to listed buildings will add 20 per cent to the cost of improvements to village and church halls that are listed, as well as churches.

Most village halls are far too small to register for VAT and therefore cannot reclaim it.

East Dean Village Hall, the cherished former village school and a listed building, was refurbished in 2006-7 at a cost of £230,000.

Half of this was raised within the village and VAT would have added an eye watering £46,000. The Heritage Lottery Fund contribution was less than this.

How will the extra cost of VAT be found when there is so little public funding for these projects? Not from wealthy individuals, since the Treasury is also capping tax relief on donations.

We have been warned that next year VAT will rise from five per cent to 20 per cent on energy efficient materials, including renewable energy, supplied to community halls, to meet EC requirements, and HMRC will no longer refund the VAT paid on materials if volunteers build a new hall as a self-build projects. This latter move will net the Treasury just £15,000 every few years. Is that really economic sense?

Community halls are the bedrock of the Big Society, through which voluntary and statutory organisations deliver activities and services around which our communities thrive.

A self build village hall like Dial Post Village Hall is the epitome of this.

Society cannot afford a tax that attacks hard pressed voluntary organisations doing their best to provide facilities that will serve future generations.

We have a heritage of beautiful buildings that people have worked hard to maintain and which need to be brought into the 21st century, with all that means in accessibility, energy efficiency, health and safety etc.

Parliament decided in 1984 not to tax improvements to listed buildings.

We should not let the Treasury throw this all away for the sake of raising tiny amounts of tax.

David Robins

Chairman,

Sussex Village Halls

Advisory Group,

Ryecroft Road

Bolney