VAT reduction urged to support economy

9 Nov 2011 02:25 PM

Reducing VAT for renovations, repairs and home improvements to just five per cent would help protect Scotland's rich built heritage, as well as providing a huge stimulus to our building industry.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop is this week calling on the UK Government to slash the existing 20 per cent VAT rate on works to existing buildings.

Ahead of a Parliamentary Debate on Thursday on the importance of architecture and place-making to the economy of Scotland, she said:

"We need to be smarter about re-using existing buildings. Demolition is inherently expensive, and construction waste is estimated to make up one third of all landfill waste in the UK.

"Restoration is a sustainable and viable option that uses fewer resources but provides more employment. For every pound spent, you could get twice as much local employment and use around half of the resources.

"Refurbishment of older buildings and areas, especially those of heritage value, usually acts as a catalyst for wider regeneration. It also helps to foster traditional building skills."

She added:

"Reducing VAT to five per cent for building repair, refurbishment and maintenance work is a measure that is widely supported in Scotland and the UK Government needs to listen.

"Such a move would also encourage owners and communities to invest in homes and neighbourhoods across the country, and provide added stimulus to the hugely important construction industry, one of the strongest sectors in Scotland today.

"Whether old or new, well-designed places and buildings should be seen as an investment that adds value."

The importance of high quality buildings and places, and the vital contribution they make to the economy of Scotland, will be debated in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow.

The Debate will provide an opportunity to consider why architecture and place-making are such a vital part of Scotland's identity, and will set out the steps that the Scottish Government is taking to ensure Scotland's built environment is managed and developed in a responsible and creative way.

The Parliamentary Motion is: That the Parliament recognises the importance of high-quality buildings and places and the vital contribution that they make to Scotland's economy as well as its cultural identity; acknowledges the importance of sharing skills, vision and practice in design and placemaking and the need to address the effects of climate change, engage communities and develop Scotland's skills base; recognises this, and the previous, administration's development of architecture, planning and design policies; acknowledges the economic benefit of reusing existing buildings, and calls on the UK Government to reduce VAT for renovations, repairs and home improvements to 5 per cent, which would act as a significant stimulus to the building industry.