Letters: Cut VAT and run the cash in hand cowboys out of town

UK Exchequer Secretary David Gauke describes householders who pay tradesmen in cash as “morally wrong”.

I wholeheartedly condemn the cash in hand cowboys who undercut legitimate VAT-registered builders and give our industry such a bad name.

But there is a very simple solution to the problem Mr. Gauke highlights; namely to cut the rate of VAT payable on building repairs and improvements to 5 per cent.

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That would eliminate the competitive advantage of the cash-in-hand cowboys and help drive them out of the industry for good.

It would stimulate the construction industry and encourage homeowners and businesses to invest in the measures needed to make our building stock greener and more energy efficient.

Above all, experience from other jurisdictions shows that it would stimulate activity to such an extent that overall VAT revenue to the Treasury would actually go up, reducing the £2 billion deficit it currently suffers through undeclared cash payments.

With construction languishing in a second recession, we need more radical solutions to build a recovery. Cutting VAT on building repairs and maintenance is already supported by the Scottish Government but is reserved to Westminster. We now need the UK Government to act and put this policy into practice.

Michael Levack, chief executive, Scottish Building Federation, Crichton’s Close, Holyrood, Edinburgh

Film shows light at end of tunnel

What a brutally honest article about film maker Garry Fraser (News, July 20), followed by his first film My Lives and Times on BBC 2.

To highlight the subject matter that he did, including his own drug addiction, which in his words, resulted in some terrible actions by him, before he reformed, was an incredible eye-opener and for Garry to have overcome what he has with the support of his wife, children and others mentioned by Garry in the film is admirable.

Myself and my husband, I am sure, are amongst many who can only wish Garry all the very best with his career as a film-maker.

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He is a clearly a talented man, courageous after all he has been through. It shows that there can be light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

Lorna Barbour, Edinburgh

Inquiry into golf course is needed

AN area of outstanding scientific interest and natural beauty on the Aberdeenshire coast in the Menie estate, with its rich, diverse wildlife, has been wantonly destroyed and lost forever to future generations, and placed under Donald Trump’s golf course.

All so a few rich Americans can hit a golf ball among the sand dunes.

Not only is this in Alex Salmond’s constituency, but he overruled Aberdeenshire Council to sanction this monstrosity, for the sake of a questionable amount of long-term employment.

Why on earth should Scottish voters support the SNP’s referendum to win even more power to do more of the same? How can this example of absolute power be democratic?

There should be an inquiry into this most suspect scheme.

Jim Gray, Royston Mains Place, Edinburgh

Stop fighting to help the wealthy

I AM no fan of Boris Johnson – but his admission that the banking crisis was caused in America, and not just in European countries is welcome.

Politicians have tried to blame other politicians – when we have all taken our eye of the multi-national corporations that caused this misery.

Now perhaps if we could persuade George Osborne and John Swinney to stop competing with each other to cut corporation tax for some of the richest companies we might start getting somewhere.

Michelle Smythe, Dalry Road, Edinburgh

TV price turn-off for ERI patients

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HAVING spent a month in the ERI, I concur with Alison Craig (£70 a week to watch TV in hospital is sick, News, July 19).

Surgeons, doctors and nurses do a wonderful job, but the TV rates and inedible food, all when you are at your most vulnerable – so much for PFI.

George Hutchison, Penicuik