We have started work on a large building project, and we
are trying to claim back the VAT as we go along. First, we were
unable to reclaim VAT on fees until we had a contractor's invoice
for those particular works; then, we were asked for budgeting
information that we do not have. In order to claim our Landfill
Community Grant, we seem to have to provide information that it
takes a building professional to produce. It all seems very top
heavy after the straightforward way that payments were made a few
FIRST, on VAT: the process, although it is fundamentally the
same as in the past, has been made more complicated. On a current
building project, my local church has had to ask the quantity
surveyor to produce an extra budget that is aligned to the agreed
tender, in order to send it to the Listed Places of Worship Grant
Scheme to reclaim the VAT.
It is tedious, but you get the money. If you really are stumped,
contact the office of the Grant Scheme, and ask for explanations of
what you need to produce.
What is more problematic for bigger projects is a related issue:
VAT will not be repaid on fees until the contractor's first invoice
is in. You have only one year from the invoice date to claim the
VAT on it.
For big repair projects, such as those in the Heritage Lottery
Fund's Repair Scheme for Places of Worship, there will, more than
likely, be at least a year between the first commissioning of your
architect, and receiving an invoice for works done. Before you get
to a position of having out-of-date invoices against which you want
to make a claim, contact the Grant Scheme for advice on what to
The second question is, I suspect, a matter of auditing by the
landfill charity. On the whole, the landfill funds are paid towards
actual works to the building, and not for VAT, preliminaries such
as scaffolding, and insurance, and even then the grant may be
allocated to specific items on the building programme.
In this case, the grant-maker's auditor will be required to
check that the money given to the church is spent only on the items
for which the grant was given. As a result, the invoice from the
contractor may need extra detail. Usually, contractors' invoices
state simply that a given value of work has been completed (agreed
by the contractor's quantity surveyor, and the church's architect
or quantity surveyor), and is a one-line total.
Now it may be necessary to show what has been spent on various
elements. Then the grant-maker can tie this in with the amount
allowable in its grant offer. My local church may again provide a
model: its quantity surveyor produced a summary of work achieved
and chargeable for the month, and the contractor then produced it
on his headed paper, along with the invoice. If your project does
not have a quantity surveyor, ask your architect for the breakdown
that he or she used to agree the payment with the contractor.
Sometimes this kind of re-presentation of detail can be not only
difficult but wearisome. I find encouragement by putting the value
of the grant against my time: "The two or three hours I spend
getting this paperwork together will earn the church £11,000." That
is as good a return on the effort as I could hope for.
Send issues and questions to