Turning empty properties into homes would help tackle the growing housing crisis with five million people on social housing waiting lists as well as the 90,000 people living in temporary accommodation, the organisation argues.
FMB director of external affairs Brian Berry said: “Recent research commissioned by the FMB from the London School of Economics reveals that there is capacity within existing towns and cities to create all the new homes the UK needs and that reusing empty properties is one of the instruments to help fulfill this aim. However, the current rate of VAT is acting as a disincentive for owners of unused properties to bring them back into use. Often it is cheaper to simply demolish and rebuild as new build is VAT exempt.”
Berry added: “Cutting VAT on domestic maintenance and repairs would not only mean many empty properties are brought back into use but would help boost an ailing construction industry by helping to create much needed jobs and apprenticeships for young people. Communities would also benefit too as getting rid of neglected properties would help create better local environments by helping to reduce crime and create demand for local services. With house building at its lowest level since 1924 bringing empty homes back into use is a sensible way to help meet housing needs of every community around the UK and cutting VAT on domestic maintenance and repairs would make sure that this happens.”