The Very Reverend Chris Dalliston, Dean of Newcastle has added his voice to an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer expressing huge concerns over his announcement in the recent budget to remove VAT exemptions for alteration to listed buildings.
The letter published in the Sunday Times on 15/4/12 and signed by 23 Deans from around the UK expressed deep concern about the proposal and its impact on the future of our Cathedrals an our heritage generally.
Commenting on the reason for the open letter Chris Dalliston said: "For Newcastle’s St Nicholas Cathedral in the midst of a £3million project to make the Cathedral fit for purpose for the 21st century this represents a huge blow. We have raised the funds via our own efforts and through a recent Heritage Lottery Fund award to rewire the Cathedral and renew our lighting. An additional 20% added to our expenditure requirements could derail plans to install decent heating, improve access and reorder the nave of the Cathedral not only for worship but for concerts , exhibitions and other cultural activities.
"In the current climate, raising the funds was already a challenge – with up to a further £200,000 to find it may put the proposals in jeopardy. Instead of extra revenue to the Treasury this will actually mean long term damage to the viability of our great building and to hundreds of the nations great buildings.
"In order to try to get this situation discussed at the most senior levels of Government and with all urgency I was happy to add my name to the letter send to the Chancellor. I have also written to the our two MP's for Newcastle Chi Onwurah and Nick Brown in a hope that we might get as much exposure to our situation as possible."
Notes to editors
The Church of England (30/3/12) created an e-petition calling on the Chancellor to bring back zero rate VAT to alternations to the CofE’s 12,500 listed churches. It follows the recent launch of a consultation by HM Revenue & Customs on VAT charging to approved alterations to listed buildings, which closes on 4 May 2012.
The e-petition can be signed online now at: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/32229.
In a letter to the Chancellor, sent 30/3/12, Anne Sloman, chair of the Church Buildings Council, wrote that a very large proportion of the alterations to listed churches “are concerned with making these buildings viable for use by the wide community… The imposition of 20 per cent VAT on this work means in practice most of it will simply stop… it seems that this VAT proposal was aimed at householders and that the implications for the Church were not fully understood.”
The Bishop of London and the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Tony Baldry MP, also wrote letters to the Chancellor to voice serious concerns about the proposed imposition of VAT on alterations to listed buildings.
Forty-five per cent of England’s Grade I listed buildings are Church of England churches.
The consultation document VAT: Addressing Borderline Anomalies, published on 21 March 2012, is available here: http://bit.ly/HmjpDV
The letters from the Bishop of London, Second Church Estates Commissioner and Anne Sloman are available here: http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/03/statement-on-budget-2012-vat-to-be-charged-at-20-percent-on-alterations-to-listed-churches.aspx