Scrap UK Reverse Charge VAT Proposals
SELECT, Scotland’s largest construction industry body, is joining other leading trade associations in again calling on UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak to withdraw ‘damaging’ Reverse Charge VAT legislation proposals.
It is the second time the influential trade bodies have felt the need to press the case for a rethink with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the absence of a reply to a detailed argument against the legislation which was submitted in a letter dated 20 December 2020.
The latest appeal, sent on January 13 this year, reiterates the fact that Reverse Charge VAT will restrict cashflow in a vital and socially contributory industry, especially to the smallest firms, at just about the worst possible time.
The letter, led by the Federation of Master Builders, again emphasises that the policy – due to come into force on March 1 – risks reversing what modest recovery the industry has made from the pandemic and will limit the scope for protecting and creating jobs at a time when the country needs this most.
John McGhee, SELECT’s Director of Finance and Resources and Association Secretary, acknowledged an earlier delay in introducing the changes and also other UK Government aid to the sector, but said: “Introduction of Reverse Charge VAT now would be seriously detrimental to the economic recovery.”
VAT reverse charging means that businesses which are both VAT and Construction Industry Scheme registered will no longer pay VAT to most of their subcontractors.
Instead, VAT will only be paid to firms which supply only labour (employment businesses) and to the merchants and businesses that sell building materials only without any fix.
McGhee argues: “The proposals will substantially increase the burden on business and restrict cash flow in what is already an extremely difficult economic climate.
“The changes will particularly impact SMEs that provide both services and materials. This is because they will have to pay VAT on the materials they purchase, including extremely costly elements such as steel, cladding and concrete, but will not be paid the VAT by their customers. For a significant number of companies this will be unsustainable.”
Organisations petitioning the Chancellor observe that their member companies are already subject to independent scrutiny which limits fraudulent behaviour and the introduction of Reverse Charge VAT unfairly penalises those that pay their VAT and comply with their obligations.
Also campaigning for the withdrawal of the proposed changes to VAT legislation is the Electrotechnical Association, which has alerted its 1,250 member companies to the gravity of the situation and its imminent implementation and has pledged to continue to fight for fair treatment for responsible firms.