VAT and church repairs

Published: Thursday, January 31, 2019


A new report published by the House of Commons Library examines the arrangements currently in place that allow listed churches to claim back VAT spent on repairs.

Under the Listed Places of Worship Grants Scheme, historic churches in the UK can apply for a refund of the VAT they have paid for repairs and alterations at the current rate of 20 per cent.

The scheme was established in 2001 and is run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. It covers repairs to the fabric of the building, along with associated professional fees, plus repairs to turret clocks, pews, bells and pipe organs.

The scheme is guaranteed only until March 2020. Read the report.

The Tablet magazine, in an article published on 31st January 2019, says that the report points out that there are no specific details as to the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the European Union on VAT.

"The draft Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by Theresa May states that the UK would remain compliant with EU law, including VAT law, during a two year “transition period”. However, since this agreement was overwhelmingly rejected by MPs, the future after 2020 is unclear."

Changes to VAT rates

"In the event of a “no deal” Brexit, or at the end of the transition period if there is a Withdrawal Agreement, the UK will have complete freedom to determine which goods and services will liable for VAT and the rates charged."

Sophie Andreae, vice chairman of the patrimony committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, quoted in The Tablet, said: “The Listed Places of Worship Grants Scheme provides vital help to parishes faced with the enormous costs associated with repairing historic churches.”

Eddie Tulasiewicz, Head of communications for the National Churches Trust said: "The Listed Places of Worship Grants Scheme is a great help to churches carrying out repair work. Without it, a church would have to add 20% onto the cost of a repair project. It is important that people responsible for looking after churches make sure that their local MP knows about the importance of this scheme for the future of their local church buildings.”