Labour MP and Shadow Culture Minister, Dan Jarvis, has written to the Bishop of Wakefield today, in response to his concerns about the Government’s decision to introduce VAT on alterations and refurbishments to Listed Buildings.
Jarvis explained, “I am proud of Labour’s history in standing up for heritage. Historic places and buildings are the physical landmarks of our towns and communities, reminding us of what went before, and of what is achievable in the future. As a result they are deserving of special respect and care.
“Churches, heritage sites and all other Listed Buildings, are key to our past and to our understanding of history. They are an educational tool like none other. To jeopardize their future would be to gamble with a British way of lifefor generations.
“I agree with the Bishop of Wakefield, that applying VAT to alterations and refurbishments of listed buildings, could have a detrimental impact on British Heritage. It is unacceptable to think that this proposal may stop imminent refurbishment works at Wakefield Cathedral, and elsewhere, from being carried out.
“It is vital that the Government is completely aware of the implications of this proposal and the uncertainty that it is causing. That is why Harriet Harman, the Shadow Secretary of state for Culture, Media and Sport, has written to Jeremy Hunt, outlining Labour’s concerns.
“The Budget says that the Listed Places of Worship grant scheme, which currently allows some VAT recovery on repairs and maintenance, will be extended to cover approved alterations. This scheme, however, has already been scaled back in recent years, and even at the moment does not allow places of worship to recover all the VAT spent on repairs.
“And it’s not just places of worship. There will no assistance for arts organisations working in Listed Buildings. This decision comes at a time when Arts Council England funding has been cut by 30%, local authorities who fund local arts organisations have had their budgets slashed, the Regional Development Agencies which were crucial to securing much needed capital for the Arts across the country have been scrapped and most recently, George Osborne has introduced a cap on the tax relief for philanthropic donations.
“A society that ignores its past cannot embrace the future. We owe it to our children and our grandchildren to ensure that we preserve the best achievements of past generations. And in that spirit, I am urging the Government to reconsider this proposal and drop the VAT rise on heritage sites.”
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