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Call to drop VAT on repairs amid eco-concerns

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Fresh calls are being made on the government to ditch VAT on repairs and renovation to existing buildings, this time from the British Property Federation (BPF).

The latest demands echo the long-running push by conservation bodies to lift the tax on revamping ageing stock – a policy heritage campaigners believe means it is often cheaper for developers to knock down and replace deteriorating gems rather than refurbish them (AJ online 01.03.07).

However, the BPF is leading its latest VAT-free charge under the eco-banner following the release of new information by the Empty Homes Agency (EHA) which claims ‘the construction of new houses emits four-and-a-half times as much CO2 as refurbishing an existing dwelling’.

The EHA report goes on to say that the CO2 emitted as a ‘direct result of constructing a new building accounts for nearly three times as much of the building's lifetime emissions as previously thought’.

Liz Peace, the BPF’s chief executive (pictured), said: ‘We hear the phrase "sustainable communities" repeated so much that people seem to ignore its true meaning.

‘We need balance; a mix of old and new, with homes and communities well supported by infrastructure, education, health and business.'

She added: ‘Many empty homes could play a key role in meeting the government's need to improve housing provision, and cutting VAT on refurbishment would be an incentive to encourage not just an increase in supply, but an improvement in the eco-friendliness of that supply.’

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