Raising insurance premium tax will be a gift to cowboy builders, warns FMB

Hiking insurance premium tax (IPT) will hit homeowners by encouraging a rise in cowboy builders, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Ahead of the Chancellor’s Spring Budget, the organisation sough to warn Philip Hammond that raising IPT would undermine good builders who play by the rules.

“The doubling of IPT over the past two years has troubling implications for construction SMEs and home owners alike. This stealth tax, which is set to rise for the third time in 18 months, effectively provides an additional competitive advantage to unscrupulous and uninsured builders,” said Brian Berry, the FMB’s chief executive.

“By driving up the costs of insurance, it punishes those businesses that play by the rules and make sure that they are always covered. This is increasing the danger that home owners could be tempted to opt for uninsured builders who are able to offer a more competitive quote.

“This stealth tax may also discourage clients taking out a warranty on building work, which is never advisable practice on a significant building project and could lead to plenty of heartache for consumers further down the line. It’s vital that we get a commitment from the Government that this third rise of IPT will be the last for this Parliament.”

James Dalton, director of general insurance policy at the Association of British Insurers, added: “IPT is a tax on businesses, especially SMEs that often operate on very tight margins and that do the right thing by purchasing insurance to help manage their risks.

“At a time of continued economic uncertainty, with many firms facing increasing costs, the last thing they need is a further hike in IPT. Unlike VAT, no element of IPT can be reclaimed by businesses meaning they will have to absorb these extra costs – this could cost jobs, drive up prices or companies may decide to reduce their insurance cover, putting them at risk if something goes wrong. Enough is enough, give firms a break and freeze IPT.”

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