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Posted By Bubb’s blog
On 30 April 2012 - 9:18am

Another brilliant move in the budget may jeopardise Government plans to encourage more community use of public assets . This budget has turned out to be a real disaster area for the third sector!

Plans to charge VAT on alterations to listed buildings could be a "fiscal torpedo" for the government's Right to Bid scheme, set up to enable community groups to buy disused publicly owned assets.

I have written to my good friend Eric Pickles, the communities secretary to warn that the proposal to remove the zero rating will harm voluntary organisations that already own or look after listed buildings.

It would also put charities off acquiring such buildings through the government's Right to Bid scheme, designed to make it easier for community groups to buy local assets.

In the context of the deeply damaging cap on philanthropy and the cap on community investment tax relief, this VAT change sends a further terrible message about the government's commitment to localism and its ability to prosecute those agendas effectively. It also risks doing serious damage to the work of voluntary organisations up and down the country.

For example some of the buildings that SIB have made loans for are listed, so for example the great plans to turn Hitchin Town Hall into a vibrant community facility, or the rescue of a beautiful Tudor barn in Leominster.

My friend Steve Wyler, of Locality, estimates that some 30 % of the proposals they are seeing for community acquisition under the right to buy or challenge are listed.

So whilst you might imagine this is something that only affects cathedrals or castles, it will hurt our third sector.

A consultation paper from HM Revenue & Customs, which proposes that the zero rating for alterations to listed buildings is abolished from 1 October, closes on 4 May. So get writing to place your comments!

And how interesting that on this plan they want a very limited consultation, whereas they think a leisurely
one year is fine on the charity tax cap!