Rishi Sunak was the hero of the hour in March 2021, with the financial stimulus he put in place to help businesses survive the impact of lockdown. Without it, many companies would have failed. So the point I’m about to make is not a political one. It is, however, one that comes from a continuing level of frustration about how our product offer as an industry is seen – or perhaps not seen – by government.
When – in his spring statement, on 23 March – Rishi started to talk about cutting VAT on energy saving materials (ESMs) to zero, to encourage homeowners to make energy-saving improvements, my ears naturally pricked up. There was Rishi making the link between energy prices, the cost-of-living crisis, and an opportunity to make homes greener and warmer through renewable energy sources and insulation.
It’s something the window and door industry has argued for, over and over again. Well, not even zero rated, just a reduction to 5% VAT on windows and doors.
But then I remembered that – contrary to what you and I might think, and, despite the focus given to windows and doors in Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Power) of the building regulations – government, in this context, does not class windows and doors as energy saving. Hot water systems are; solar panels are; wall, loft, floor and ceiling insulation are. But the only mention of windows and doors in the context of the zero-rated VAT break on ESMs, is in relation to draught proofing.
Part L, Part F – I’m not even going to get into the debate. Government just doesn’t seem to get us. Or, is that we don’t get it?
So, we’re where we are? Part L: well, that’s ok. Part F, the less said about that the better. But to not be included as an ESM? Something has to be going wrong somewhere, don’t you think? I’m just asking.
Managing director, Sternfenster