Coffee House

Shapps has ‘deep reservations’ about the ‘conservatory tax’

11 April 2012

11:14 AM

11 April 2012

11:14 AM

There is deep unease among Tory ministers about the proposals for a
so-called ‘conservatory tax’. The idea, which was pushed hard by Chris Huhne when he was Energy Secretary,
is that when anyone does substantial home improvement work they would be made to make other changes to make their house more energy efficient. It is estimated that this would add about 10 percent
to the cost of adding a conservatory or an extension to your house.

The government is currently consulting on the policy. But I understand that Grant Shapps, the housing minister, has ‘deep reservations’ about it. He fears that the proposals are
anti-aspiration and could risk bolstering the impression that the coalition is out of touch.

Based on conversations this morning, it seems that Shapps is not the only Tory minister to have these concerns. There is a feeling among Tory ministers that the last thing they need to do right now
is pick another fight with 40p Britain.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Blancmange

    and any chocolate oranges found will be confiscated by Head Prefect.

    You idiots were warned and you still didn’t get it. You deserve all you get.

    Vote UKIP.

  • 2trueblue

    MR Shapps is sensible to be having serious thought on this matter. It is utter madness to make a blanket set of rules which can not cover all houses. The structure of houses i this country are varied, they do not all fit the standards that have recently been deemed to be standard. GOSH. What a revelation this must be for those who govern us.

    Of course they all live in houses with cavity walls that are insulated and have standard roof structures that allow the now accepted level of insulation. Add to that the new double glazing standard windows. What else?

    Take a walk chaps and experience the diversity (woops modern word) of buildings in the UK, solid walls, mansard roofs, just to name 2. Neither can be insulated by standard means, and when our so called ‘Energy Efficient Rating’ chaps conduct their assessment what is it worth? Absolutely nothing. It takes a bit more than a 6 week course to understand how it all works but that is what the EU decided we should do and Labour brought it in and now we are stuck with it.
    Is there anyone sane in government?

  • 2trueblue

    The lunatics are definitely running the asylum. We are now to be penalised for the fact that we bought a house that has solid walls, or a house with a mansard roof, or is of some other structure that is not what is now to be dictated to be standard. This is definitely a step too far. Next we will be expected to have our houses knocked down because it is not ‘standard’.

    This is yet another thing that has not been thought through by a bunch of people who are obviously ignorant on a level that would embarrass most people in the street…… and they are part of our government???? God help us.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Your walls will need to be hollowed out by a Government approved company so that you can take out a Government loan to have insulation injected that may not save you any money at all.

  • Jon Stack

    Ha! That’s hilarious. If anyone wants to force me to do something to my house then they can come round and try to make me. They ought to be offering tax incentives to build more energy efficient extensions, not encouraging people to avoid building energy efficient extensions entirely.

  • Marcher Baron

    My house has solid walls (the roof already has maximum insulation). What are they going to do about making me insulate the walls if I need to replace my conservatory?

  • Robert Eve

    Nanny state alert!!!!!!!!!!

  • JohnOfEnfield

    I can feel yet another single issue party coming into being. The “NO Green Taxes” Party. Should go down well with those who suffer from so called “Fuel Poverty” i.e. 20% of the population. And with all those inhabitants fed up with windmills disfiguring the landscape and killing rare birds etc etc.

  • Tony (Somerset)

    So your boiler gives up the ghost in the middle of a freezing January. You then have to apply to the council and jump through various administrative hoops – presumably you fill finally be allowed to install your new boiler sometime in the Springtime, unless you are a pensioner, in which case you will have succombed to hypothermia by then.

    Yet another half baked idea that the so-called Conservatives have allowed to be floated. I have voted Conservative all my life, but never again.

    Next time I will vote UKIP – probably a waste of time, but at least I can register my feelings about the EC, the organisation at the root of most of the nonsense we hear about nowadays.

  • The Engineer

    I agree with all about this ludicrous suggestion but I have one additional objection.
    As I read this, it appears that house owners wanting to extend (or even replace a ‘broken’ boiler) may be forced to add wall or ceiling insulation – which may not be an unmitigated good: cavity wall insulation may have serious adverse effects causing damp inner wall surfaces and if not installed by well-trained operatives even roof insulation can cause problems. [see Jeff Howell in the Sunday Telegraph just last week and on many other occasions]
    I wonder if the government will give perpetual guarantees against future problems arising in work they force us to undergo?

  • Halki

    Yet more cynical ways to extract every last penny off us. they are all so rich, they haven’t got a clue how the rest of us are struggling to survive.
    UKIP are the party of sanity, they have had my vote of late, and will continue to get my vote. We need a radical change of government, and to be released from the shackles of the EU.

  • Sir Everard Diigby


    So Huhne is entirely blameless then? If he is then the responses are simply facts. If he is not,they are lies. Neither would be ‘weak’

    What would be ‘strong’ in your view?

  • Dave B

    Mr Shapps should just accept that he is part of a bad government, that has no interest is serving the British people. Their primary concern is the BBC TV News coverage.

  • It doesn’t add up…

    So is Shapps going to repeal the plans to impose a zero carbon standard on newbuilds? It should bring housebuilding to a shuddering halt if he doesn’t.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Why not a conservative tax instead? And a Labour and LibDem one.

    Payable at the ballot.

  • In2minds

    So Grant Schapps is not happy with coalition policy, what happens next, will he be criticised in the same way as David Davis doing the same thing?

    I also see the rush to blame Chris Huhne has begun. That’s weak. Blame the Tories who rushed into coalition with the Lib Dems.

  • Alan Douglas

    The coalition is NOT out of touch – they are valiantly continuing the policies of the previous governments’ last 13 years. New Labour is dead, long live the New Cameroons.

    Alan Douglas

  • johnfaganwilliams

    The Polar Bear population is at a record level according to recent reviews by people who actually went and counted them from the air – rather than relied on AGW bleeding hearts and David Attenborough for their information.

  • Sir Everard Digby

    I despair. They know nothing about how the world works -why dow e let them run it?

    If I save enough to pay for cutting the emissions and no more then this works.If I save more than the green measures cost then I may spend that money on something else. Holiday in Barbados perhaps ? What will that do for my carbon footprint? Does it make anything environmentally better?

    Typical Huhne sponsored rubbish.

  • Mudplugger

    So what’s going to persuade me to replace my old, inefficient gas-boiler with a new, greener one ? Ah yes, the local council getting involved and forcing me to spend money I can’t afford on lots of other green nonsense I don’t want or need.

    So guess what, I’ll stick with the old boiler and the polar bears can take their chances.

    If this lot don’t start thinking it all through soon we’ll have Nigel Farage PM – which might not be such a bad idea.

  • JohnPage

    From the point of view of the politics there are two striking things about this.

    First, Shapps is unrelentingly ambitious. He must have had a nod.

    Secondly, he’s a minister in the department in charge of this consultation.

    The DCLG is of course headed by supposedly man of the people Eric Pickles, to whom this should be anathema.

    Is Pickles really going to stand up and announce a 10% levy on the cost of boilers and conservatories?

    Which leads to the real political question – why is it the DCLG doing this consultation anyway? Huhne’s DECC would surely have pronounced the feedback favourable.

    And then, why did the Daily Mail publicise this story when the consultation period was about to end, after starting in January?

    More depth, please.

  • whatawaste

    It’s official: Cameron is toast!. Guido highlights that Dave has inherited “Brown’s Legacy”, where moments after landing in Indonesia a huge earthquake struck. Is this the start of the “Curse of Dave” stories?

  • Faceless Bureaucrat

    @ Tulkinghorn.

    Despite 40 years as a Conservative, I already am…

  • johnfaganwilliams

    Another ludicrous announcement from a government that seems to have gone completely off the rails. Can you imagine any other group of politicians saying that it is not possible to replace a broken boiler without doing some weird “green” and costly extra work? Why FFS? This at the same time that very senior people all over the world are questioning the whole AGW climate scares – including experienced NASA astronauts and scientists who have written to NASA and GISS complaining that they have been hi-jacked by climate change fanatics and are ignoring science.
    I used to think that in Wilson and Blair/Brown I had lived through the worst government imaginable but this shower! They seem to want to increase taxes on the people who work hardest, cripple our industries with carbon footprint levies which even if they were justified will be ignored by our competitors, agree crazy rules from Brussels (hairdressers and rings anyone?) and generally totally ignore the wishes of the indigenous population. I’m off!

  • Lord Blagger

    The meters should be fitted in 30m UK homes by 2019, at a cost of £11.7bn.

    But the government believes the high cost of the mass rollout will be offset by the £7bn or so of savings it will bring about for both consumers and power suppliers.


    Spend 11.7 bn, get 7 bn back.

    Don’t forget that the 7 bn saving is snake oil salesmen selling their technology.

    So spend lots of money to get less back.

    UK government through and through.

  • PayDirt

    How is this different from the current building regulations in force which require set standards for energy efficiency in terms of U value for insulation, etc etc, for “substantial” housing extensions as well as new builds?

  • Lord Blagger

    Tax tax and more tax.


    The government is bust. Bankrupt. Financially as well as morally.

    150 bn a year overspend.

    350 bn on the long term debts last year. [You do want a state pension don’t you]

    Growth won’t do it, so its trying taxation.

    All this does is put more wood and petrol on the debt bonfire. When it goes, it will go like Greece.

  • Nicholas

    This was – and is – a barmy idea. But it is especially barmy coming from a party that promised to sweep away authoritarian red tape and centralised bureaucracy. When it comes to supposedly “green” issues – persuade with tangible evidence don’t regulate by aspiration.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    How about adopting a policy of discussing things before they are announced? Just a suggestion. Far be it from me to stop them looking completely STUPID!

  • Paul Maynard

    And a fight based upon the totally false premise of man made GW and our absurd commitments under the Climate Change Act.

    As Benedict Brogan said in the Telegraph today, this useless government has either no idea or worse no intention of making Real cuts in government spending. Then Cameron loads even more costs onto benighted householders with this farce.


  • oldtimer

    If he had his head screwed on he would not have “deep reservations” he would say it was “bonkers”. As for the idea bolstering the impression that the coalition is out of touch, it is perfectly obvious that it is out of touch. Furthermore it gives a good impression that it is clueless as well.

  • Tulkinghorn

    Tax,Tax,Tax. Perhaps we should root for UKIP.