Members of the Joint Committee of the National Amenity Societies and 12 other organisations, including the National Trust, which is custodian of historic buildings such as Dudmaston in Shropshire (pictured above), are calling for the VAT rate to be reduced from 17.5% to 5%. The tax rules are described by the organisations as costly, unfair and difficult to administer. John Sell, chairman of the committee's tax group, said: 'An equal, lower rate of VAT would reward efforts to bring neglected and redundant buildings back into use, and encourage owners to look after them. It would also simplify and streamline administration.' The protest follows a survey examining 362 projects, affecting 105 listed buildings. It found that overall repair work on such buildings in the UK cost £6bn last year, with VAT adding £195m to the financial burden. The survey concluded that VAT bills fell most heavily on those least able to afford it. Reducing the rate of VAT on listed building repairs would cost the Treasury an estimated £92m, but would also kick-start repair programmes.
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