I was contacted by an Anthony Wareing a few weeks ago. He pointed me to a story within the food industry which coordinated a day of action against 20% on their food. Lots of companies and eateries joined in to lower, just for one day, the VAT on their food to 12.5%. He pointed this out to me to float the idea of a similar protest within our industry. I replied back saying I would definitely be up for getting something like that going, but I have had no reply, so I am taking on the issue myself.
Whilst a day of protest is a commendable action. I believe that our industry needs something far more long term and strong if we are to lower the VAT rate on energy efficient windows.
This is the argument our industry has for 5% VAT on windows: other energy efficient measures, that are also included alongside windows in the Green Deal, enjoy a 5% VAT rate. If windows are to be seen as just a vital home improvement as say a new boiler, they need to be treated fairly when it comes to tax. This is a fairly sound and reasonable argument as far as I am concerned. I have had a look on the HMRC website and this are the things that are eligible for a lower VAT rate:
- draught insulation (eg around windows and doors)
- controls for central heating and hot water systems
- insulation on walls, floors, ceilings, lofts, etc
- solar panels
- wind turbines
- water turbines
- ground-source heat pumps
- air-source heat pumps
- micro combined heat and power units
- wood-fuelled boilers
These are the items that are not eligible:
- secondary or double glazing
- energy efficient boilers
- low emission glass
- energy efficient fridge freezers
- materials and equipment that you buy without having them installed
Two of the above apply to our industry directly. Forget the argument about Green Deal. The Government’s argument against lowering VAT will be that Green Deal covers loans for new windows. Well we all know how much that is failing in the residential market so that is a flat argument straight away. I believe that a drop in the VAT rate to 5%, just like other products, will actually create a far bigger buzz with the general public than the Green Deal ever will. I also believe that the extra business it could generate will far outweigh the tax lost by lowering the VAT itself. In turn, creating more jobs and expanding businesses that already exist within the sector. I believe that there will only be positives by implementing such a plan.
We all think it is a good thing. But what I want to know is if I would have enough support to lead a campaign to get VAT lowered. I don’t want to fight this fight on my own. It needs a campaign spearheaded by someone or something to make sure that pressure is put on the Government and that the opposition parties help our cause. That is why I will be writing to the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls to see if I could either get his active support or at the very least his backing.
I will be spending the next few weeks exploring the various way I can try and create an energy around this campaign and to get as much attention as possible. Whether I use DGB as the tool to do so or create a new site is still something I need to decide on. If I think I can get the active support and backing of enough of the industry, I will press ahead with this. If it’s a battle I am going to fight on my own, I won’t put my time and resources into it.
If you have any ideas on how to grow a campaign like this, please leave your comments in the section below.