Watching the BBCâ€™s â€˜Newsnightâ€™ earlier this week one of the politicians being interviewed advocated the reduction of VAT to 5% on home improvements as an immediate way of boosting the rather lacklustre GDP growth figures that had been announced that day.
As you can imagine my ears pricked up immediately!Â The opportunity to reduce the VAT element of a kitchen installation by 75% (the idea proposed is to reduce VAT from 20% to 5%) would, no doubt, be a great help to householders wanting to improve their homes and stimulate demand for all home renovation contractors.
Clearly, with something to gain from such a proposal being implemented (however unlikely!)Â I started researching the subject.Â In its excellent 2010 report (www.cutthevat.co.uk)Â the â€˜Cut the VATâ€™ coalition, a group of 21 organisations with a vested interest in the housing repair, maintenance and improvement sector,Â make some compelling arguments about the economic, environmental and social benefits a reduction in the VAT would bring.
And, you’ll be glad to know, I have no intention of repeating all of their arguments here!Â But one did strike me as worth discussing further â€“ what the Cut the VAT coalition call the â€˜informalâ€™ economy or, as the rest of us know it, the black market!Â Their report suggests that the black market is worth approximately 35% – or Â£6.4bn â€“ of the formal one.
It may be my naivety but…Â£6.4bn!
Donâ€™t get me wrong, we at Nicholas Hythe understand the current economic situation and its impact on consumer confidence and we work hardÂ with our suppliersÂ to provide customers with the best value for money possible.Â But what puts the fear into me more than anything is the potential danger consumers who use this ‘informal market’ of largely non qualified fitters, are putting themselves in in order to save money.
Using somebody whoâ€™s not an experiencedÂ kitchen fitter and ends up providing a poor fitting service is one thing â€“ you pays your money, you takes your choice.Â But a kitchen that is unsafe and doesnâ€™t meet UK legislation and regulation is potentially dangerous.Â Dealing with gas, electrical, water or waste requires plenty of care, attention and specialist knowledge, so really mustn’t be skimped on just to save a few quid.
When you are inviting any contractor in to your home to work on any of the utilities please ask for certification before they begin any work on your new kitchen. Gas engineers should be â€˜Gas Safeâ€™ registered and electricians be fully or â€˜Part Pâ€™ qualified. Electricians should also produce you with a completion certificate after the work done, but donâ€™t accept this unless the installation and work isÂ fully completed to your satisfaction.Â You can then feel safe in the knowledge that all of your kitchenÂ utilities are legal and follow regulations.
But, in the end, why compromise?Â Your new kitchen â€“ whatever youâ€™re spending on renovating it â€“ is a decent investment.Â Spend a little more on legitimate suppliers and be certain that the result in both look, practicality and, above all, safety is not being compromised.
For hundreds of pictures of kitchens we’ve installed for delighted clients please go toÂ www.facebook.com/NicholasHytheKitchenDesignStudio