Can you tell me
when our church should apply for a grant from the Listed Places of
Worship Grant Scheme for refunds on our VAT?
THERE are several updates
on the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme website (www.lpwscheme.org.uk) which relate to the
variety of queries that I receive on VAT.
Payments are now being
made on a monthly basis; so your church can keep up to date during
a building programme. This is a great help in keeping control of
the cashflow, when you have paid out reclaimable VAT, but need the
money for the next payment to the builder.
The current level of
funding in the scheme is high, and churches are receiving 100 per
cent of their eligible claims. I hear on the grapevine that a
significant amount in the trust is unclaimed. So pull out all your
building and maintenance invoices of the past year, and get your
claim in quickly. The application form is very straightforward.
As you review past
invoices - they are eligible for up to a year after the church paid
them - remember that, despite incurring VAT, you cannot claim back
fees for the architect and other professionals. You can, however,
claim back for works that alter or repair the building.
Changes after October
2012 mean that works to plumbing and electrical installations are
eligible, as are works on kitchens and lavatories, per- manent
floor-coverings, and handrails. Works that enable disabled access -
to a lavatory, for example - should still be zero-rated. Decorative
work such as carvings, stonework, and repainting are covered. Work
to pews and removal of asbestos are, again, also included. A new
addition has been works to security and forensic systems to prevent
Bear in mind that you
must send original invoices. They will be returned safely, but send
them only after you have paid the invoice, and only if the
contractor is VAT registered.
Detailed questions are
answered on the website, on topics such as churches' being closed
for works, yet complying with the requirement to be open for
worship six times in the year. Take a look.
There is a minimum
threshold of £1000 on the value of the invoice(s); so you may need
to accumulate a few before reaching this figure. There is no limit
to the number of applications that your church can make; so, during
a large building contract, you may be able to apply each month as
you pay the contractor and keep up to date with your bank
If your church has next
to nothing in the bank other than the money for the building works,
ask your quantity surveyor to help you with a detailed cash-flow
projection, so that you can tell whether there will come a time
when, still awaiting a VAT grant, you will be unable to pay the
builder within the contracted time. In the past, a small diocesan
loan has helped some churches: it can be repaid as soon as the VAT
grant is received.
Apart from all the
information and application material, the website includes a phone
number for queries. I have always found the staff extremely
One question remains: are
there churches - perhaps smaller ones - where there is no one with
the technical know-how or equipment to deal with stuff that is
online? Are dioceses able to help? I suspect that this will be an
increasingly common issue with applications to, for example, the
Heritage Lottery Fund, where the entire process, and most of the
appended material, is online.
Send questions and
issues to email@example.com.