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 2013 is likely to be a very lean year for owners of Listed Properties.

 In an effort to raise revenue, both local and national Governments have singled out “wealthy” property owners as soft targets and a whole new range of additional taxes will apply.

 First of these was the decision to apply the full rate of VAT on approved alterations to Listed Buildings that took effect from 1st October 2012. Although buildings reconstructed from a shell continue to benefit from the zero rate and refunds are available to Listed Places of Worship through the DCMS (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), most property owners are likely to be affected by this change which is estimated to raise £450 million for the Exchequer over the next five years.

 Specialist builders are already feeling the impact of this change as people raced to miss the deadline when it was first announced in the 2012 Budget.

 Many Listed Properties are used as second homes or are left empty and have in the past benefited from reduced Council Tax. Now this concession looks likely to disappear as Local Councils struggle to raise sufficient funds from their Rate Payers. Indeed, some properties that are left unoccupied for long periods may face penalty rates.

 How can owners make the best of the current circumstances?

 The Department of the Environment manages a grant scheme which is available for repairs of all types of secular listed buildings and also for some Churches. According to the latest information on the DOE site, the rate of Listed Building Grant Aid has been increased from 35% to 45% and the cap for grant-aid from £150,000 to £500,000. The change came into effect from 30th November 2012.

 Limited grants are also available via English Heritage, although they are fighting hard to support those buildings that are most at risk.

 Some forms of work on buildings are still able to benefit from lower rates of VAT, for example where facilities for the disabled are required or where the work is to enhance the energy efficiency of a property (some energy suppliers are offering free surveys and energy saving improvements for their clients).

 Working farms or  properties where an element of farming activities exists can benefit from VAT concessions, although the  seeking of  professional advice is  an essential precaution.

 Before embarking on a major development at your home or business we would suggest that you consult one or more of the specialist contractors on our web site. They will be able to explain the rules to you and probably save you a pretty penny!