Michael Levack.

Scottish support for Rok's Repairing Britain campaign

Published:  23 June, 2009

EDINBURGH: The Scottish Building Federation has given its support to the Repairing Britain campaign, which believes a focus on building repair and maintenance can help secure 250 000 construction industry jobs at risk during the recession.

There is direct synergy between the campaign and the Federation as both are calling on the government to reduce VAT on property repairs and maintenance to 5%, which will help stimulate the economy and encourage the public and local authorities to take an interest in the maintenance of their homes and community buildings.

Repairing Britain says up to half a million jobs could be lost in the current downturn. However, it is highlighting that refurbishment and improvement projects create many more jobs than new build schemes, require skilled tradesmen and are more sustainable.

A consumer study by the Scottish Building Federation recently revealed that spending on home improvement in Scotland would be boosted by a minimum of £80m over the next 12 months if a VAT cut was introduced.

The findings showed that an additional 73 000 Scottish householders would definitely invest in home improvements over the next year if the UK Treasury chose to take advantage of a recent EU decision to allow the minimum 5% VAT rate to be applied to this category of spending.

Based on official statistics on average Scottish household expenditure on home alterations and improvements per year, this amounts to a boost in consumer spending of at least £80m.

The survey has also revealed that, with a cut in VAT, the number of Scottish householders seriously considering making improvements to their home in the next 12 months would increase by 230 000, potentially boosting spending by a further £256m.

As part of its support of Repairing Britain, the Scottish Building Federation will be encouraging its members to sign the campaign’s petition on the Downing Street website, http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/repairingbritain/ to request the reduction in VAT on property repair work.

Michael Levack, chief executive of the Scottish Building Federation, said: “Working with Repairing Britain will allow the Federation to increase the volume of our calls to provide a much needed stimulus to the economy.

“Alongside the significant boost to the economy, a cut in VAT would also encourage measures to improve the energy efficiency of homes, reducing carbon emissions and saving consumers money on energy bills. In addition, it would significantly reduce the commercial advantage of VAT-evading rogue traders, helping to eliminate them from the building trade.”

Andy Mallice, who is spearheading the Repairing Britain campaign in Scotland and is also managing director of Scottish property maintenance and repair specialist, Rok, said: “The Scottish Building Federation’s position on a cut in VAT directly correlates with the aims of Repairing Britain and we are very pleased they have given their support to the campaign.

“The wholesale reduction of VAT to 15% has effectively been a failure. However, by targeting reductions towards key areas of the economy, like the construction industry, a far smarter stimulus can be achieved, which will safeguard jobs and improve the infrastructure of UK homes and public buildings.”


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