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VAT probe is widened by minister

THE Department of Trade and Industry has widened the remit of a cross-departmental working group considering proposals to slash VAT on repair and maintenance work to 5 per cent.

Construction minister Brian Wilson set up the Treasurybacked initiative after April's budget to examine the issue.

Now the scope of the group has been broadened to include all VAT matters affecting the built environment.

The group will also examine plans to introduce VAT incentives for firms using energy efficient products.

Four government departments - the DTI, the Treasury, the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - will feed into the working group.

The group is due to report in September so results can be handed to the Treasury in time for Gordon Brown's pre-Budget statement in November.

Construction Products Association chief executive Michael Ankers said: 'This is a very positive step. I'm encouraged that the channels will be fully opened for a debate on VAT issues, and it is now up to us to marshal our arguments.'