THE Government has changed its mind on imposing new tax measures on church restoration projects.
It has pledged an extra £30m to ensure projects, including the refurbishment of Wakefield Cathedral, can continue.
Chancellor George Osborne introduced the 20 per cent VAT hike, the so called heritage tax, in this year’s budget.
But the move threatened the multi-million pound restoration of Wakefield Cathedral, adding an extra £200,000 to the cost of the Cathedral’s Project 2013 renovation project.
The government’s change of heart came after months of pressure from the cathedral, including protest songs by Pamela Greener, the wife of the Very Rev Jonathan Greener, and letter from seven-year-old Sophie Clucas.
Earlier this week the Horbury St Peter’s and Clifton School pupil travelled to London along with Wakefield MP Mary Creagh to deliver her letter asking Prime Minister David Cameron to reconsider the tax proposals.
The £30m will help churches manage the increase in VAT, but it will not apply to restoration projects of other listed buildings.
Ms Creagh said: “Beefing up the Listed Place Worship scheme provides a fig leaf to hide the government’s embarrassment at the uproar caused by their out of touch Budget tax raid on listed buildings alterations.
“It offers short term crumbs of comfort for churches but nothing for non-religious buildings and no long term solution.
“They are taxing the nation’s heritage and putting construction schemes at risk which will further contribute to the double dip recession.”
The ambitious £5m Project 2013 aims to modernise the cathedral in time for its 125th birthday next year.