Builders' body calls for VAT cut on repairing empty homes
Edited by Andy Jowett.
The government has been urged to cut VAT on maintenance and home improvement
work in order to help builders
bring the UK's one million empty properties back into use.
Brian Berry, director of external affairs at the Federation of Master Builders
(FMB), said the tax is currently deterring owners of void housing from renovating it as the zero rate on new builds means it is often cheaper to demolish and replace existing dwellings.
However, research carried out for the trade association by the London School of Economics shows existing towns and cities have the capacity to meet residential property
demand, but only if empty homes are reused.
Mr. Berry argued that with around five million people on housing waiting lists and another 90,000 in temporary accommodation, the government needs to create an incentive to turn these units around.
"With house building at its lowest level since 1924, bringing empty homes back into use is a sensible way to help meet the housing needs of every community around the UK," he commented.
The expert added a cut in VAT would also create jobs. In June, the FMB claimed that reducing the tax from its current rate of 17.5 per cent to five per cent for repairs and maintenance labour would generate 17,500 openings for builders in 2010 alone.