CHURCH leaders have warned that a multi-million pound restoration of Wakefield Cathedral is in jeopardy.
The Bishop of Wakefield the Rt Rev Stephen Platten has launched a scathing attack on the government after it announced in last week’s budget an introduction of VAT on listed building alterations.
If the 20 per cent hike, which is due to come into force in October, goes ahead it will cost the cathedral at least an extra £200,000.
Bishop Stephen said: “I think it is nothing short of crazy.
“I am absolutely opposed to this move and it seems even more ridiculous to introduce it to building projects that have already started.
“The cathedral is one of the most important buildings we have and identifies Wakefield. This work is essential.”
Work to renew the Grade One listed building started this month after four years of fundraising.
The two-phase project, which ties in with the cathedral’s 125th birthday next year, is set to cost around £5m.
But the current work has only tied up half of that figure.
A campaign has now been launched by the cathedral and MP Mary Creagh to get chancellor George Osborne to rethink his plans.
Mr Osborne said VAT at 20 per cent would be charged on alterations to listed buildings made on or after October 1.
The Dean of Wakefield, the Very Rev Jonathan Greener, said: “Such short notice has catastrophic consequences for our project here in Wakefield and for any group wanting to preserve, alter or breathe new life into any listed building in this country.
“This added unforeseen cost paralyses us here – we can’t go backwards and we can’t go forwards. This is a terrible tragedy for our nation’s rich and varied heritage and it must be stopped.”
A petition has been started on the Number 10 website.
To find out more follow the link from www.wakefield-cathedral.org.uk.