Neil Gray, writer, researcher, and housing activist with Living Rent tenants’ union, interviews Malcolm Fraser, architect, writer and built environment campaigner about his long-term campaigning work on the Builders VAT issue. Published on Bella Caledonia.

"Currently, builders across the UK are charged 20% VAT for refurbishing residential properties and 0% for new-builds. The 20% VAT rate is for most work undertaken on houses and flats, including work done by builders and similar tradespeople. The 0% VAT rate is for work on new build construction projects, or work closely related to it, including the demolition of existing buildings and site preparation.

The current VAT regime is a perverse charter for building decay and (heavily incentivised) demolition that presents a stubborn, unjust legal-financial constraint to building repair, retrofitting and rescue.

Yet, if current VAT rates were harmonised this would give builders a genuine choice between repair and retrofitting versus demolition and destruction. Given the extent of fuel poverty at a time of escalating energy prices and given the scale of carbon emissions from households and embodied carbon loss from demolition, the stakes are obvious for challenging energy injustice and meeting energy efficiency and carbon reduction targets."

Excerpt from 'Warmer Homes, Smaller Bills: The Case for Builders VAT Harmonisation'