Ministers back VAT exemption for removal of combustible building cladding
Companies removing combustible cladding from their buildings in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy should have their VAT waived by the UK government, Scottish Ministers have said.
Housing minister Kevin Stewart has written to the Rt Hon Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, calling for a VAT exemption for work on high rise buildings to remove aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding, like that used in Grenfell Tower.
Mr Stewart said: “The Grenfell Tower fire was a tragedy and we have to learn lessons on how to better protect people in their own homes. We are continuing to review our building regulations to ensure that the appropriate fire protections are in place, but to maintain public faith the UK Government should not be in a position to make money on the back of repairs to keep people safe.
“For those living in high rise buildings with this type of cladding it has been a period of incredible upheaval and uncertainty as they wait for all the necessary partners to agree a way forward. I want to thank them for their patience, as well as all of those involved across councils, construction firms, residents organisations and others who have worked together to resolve the issues that became apparent in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.
“We welcome the recent announcement that the UK government will fund replacement cladding for social high rise domestic buildings, however that funding will not be extended to owners of private high rise buildings. This means that in order to make their homes safe, individual owners will need to fund the full cost of replacing unsafe combustible cladding. These costs run into millions of pounds and are made considerably higher as VAT is payable on this category of repair works. Hundreds of buildings and thousands of individuals across the UK are affected by this.
“The exemption of VAT on repair and renovation works is an issue that the Scottish Government has raised previously with HM Treasury and which has not yet been resolved. The very stark reality of the consequences of the Grenfell Tower fire and the enormous amount of repair and refurbishment required to remove affected cladding systems has highlighted this issue once more. It perturbs me that we find ourselves in a situation where repair work directly linked to the replacement of ACM cladding, in order to ensure the long term fire safety of residents, will ultimately result in additional revenue to HM Treasury.”