Restoration bosses have said a proposed hike in tax on ancient buildings could hit Chichester Cathedral hard.
Planned work totalling £1.3 million is to be carried out on the unfinished arms of the Cloisters as well as completing stabilisation work on the Transepts Tudor paintings at the cathedral.
But staff at the Chichester Cathedral Restoration and Development Trust have said the government’s recent announcement to charge VAT on alterations to listed buildings at 20 per cent from October will be disastrous.
Alison Godfrey, director of the Chichester Cathedral Renovation Trust, said: “We will now have to find more money at a time when donors are finding it hard and cuts across the sector mean charities in Chichester are all looking for funding. Even smaller day-to-day maintenance will have to be provided for somehow.”
A spokesman said the trust relies entirely on voluntary donations and needs to raise £1,000 a day to continue the restoration programme.
The cathedral relies on donations in order to keep the building in a fit state for its 21st century uses – the added VAT costs will mean more pressure on fundraising to cover the shortfall.
The cathedral also faces the challenge of undertaking vital work on the roof, which is estimated to cost £175,000.
A national campaign against the VAT increase, backed by the Bishop of London, was launched last week, when the Dean of Canterbury, Robert Willis, voiced his concerns England’s 12,500 buildings will now be forced to cancel vital work in a national newspaper.
The director-general of the National Trust, Dame Fiona Reynolds, said: “It shouldn’t be the case that it’s more expensive to repair historic buildings then it is to knock them down.”
The new hike the ancient buildings tax will also affect some local residents who own listed homes.
The previous zero VAT rate on building alterations allowed owners to carry out work on their historically prominent buildings that would otherwise be extortionately expensive.