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Rok backs repair campaign to save construction jobs

About 250,000 construction jobs could be saved by a government rethink concerning the repair of empty buildings, says repair and maintenance specialist Rok.
Rok backs repair campaign to save construction jobs
Rok and fellow supporters of the 'Repairing Britain' campaign are calling for an audit of empty buildings by local authorities to identify and repair properties that need it.

At a time when the UK needs 240,000 extra housing units a year and only 60,000 are being built, the campaign is urging the government to pay closer attention to the buildings that already exist for new homes. Rok says refurbishment projects create many more jobs than new build schemes, require skilled tradesmen and are more sustainable.

Rok's chief executive Garvis Snook has launched a Downing Street e-petition calling for the reduction in VAT on repair work to 5%. He says all need to invest in repairing and maintaining existing properties, particularly as far fewer new properties are likely to be developed. However, while those building new properties are exempt from VAT, the standard rate of 15% VAT is payable on building repair and maintenance. A reduction of VAT to 5% would help individuals and businesses maintain and improve their existing properties and by increasing the amount of maintenance repair work undertaken, this will also keep the UK's skilled workers in work.

Garvis Snook said: 'The effects on this recession on workers in our industry are an enormous concern. I have an abiding memory of the recession in the early '90s when the industry lost some of the most skilled people, most of whom have never returned. We need to prevent this from recurring.

'The proposed change to VAT backed by community support of their local trades people can save up to 250,000 jobs and ensure more young people are brought into training within the industry if people follow the plan set out by 'Repairing Britain'. Many people are unaware of the tax inequality that allows those building new homes to be exempt while those making improvements to existing properties are charged at 15%.'

There are an estimated one million empty homes in the UK and up to 20% of UK properties are likely to be in poor condition, in need or repair or underused. Rok says that if, during the next two years, the UK tackled 20% of the buildings needing repair and turned them into homes, 2.5 million new homes would be created - more than satisfying the country's need.

The campaign has devised five steps the public can follow to support the industry and their local community.This includes looking around their local community for disused buildings and those in poor repair and inform the local council and asking the council to agree to use local builders for refurbishment contracts and schemes under £10,000. Rok is delivering the 'Repairing Britain' message to the public via the Rok 'Stop the Rot' regional roadshow, taking place nationwide.

To sign the Repair Britain petition click here
5 May 2009


By elspeth clements
05 May 2009 01:01:00

The repair and maintenance of an existing building is much more sustainable than knocking them down and starting again.
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