That is the warning from leaders of the National Federation of Builders who fear the government’s planned VAT hike will play into the hands of rogue builders who dodge the tax system.
The federation has lobbied for reducing the rate of VAT on domestic construction to 5% to help level the playing field between cowboys and bona fide builders by reducing the cash-in-hand temptation.
So widespread reports of a VAT hike are a double blow to small builders across the UK who play by the rules.
Over 100,000 complaints are made about rogue tradesmen each year, according to figures from the Trading Standards.
Julia Evans, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders, said: “We have campaigned for many years to lower the VAT rate on domestic construction work to five per cent in order to close the cost gap that is exploited by cash-in-hand cowboy builders at the expense of reputable taxpaying businesses.
“Increasing VAT will simply exacerbate the problem and inevitably drive more homeowners into the arms of rogue traders.”