The Federation of Master Builders aims to use fresh evidence in its long running struggle to reduce VAT on domestic repair and maintenance.
Figures to be released by the FMB next month suggest that up to 50% of home improvers will strike a deal with their builder, offering them cash in return for waiving VAT charges.

The FMB this week called on chancellor Gordon Brown to cut VAT on domestic repair work to 5%, claiming that this would reduce the commercial advantage enjoyed by rogue traders.

It said that despite the horror stories of cowboy builders, the expectation of "VAT off for cash" was entrenched in the mind of the consumer.

In his submission to the chancellor, FMB director Ian Davis said that cutting the rate of VAT would reduce the commercial advantage that the VAT-avoiding trader has in the marketplace, and would create a level playing field for competition. He said this would drive cowboys out of the market, as customers focused on quality rather than price.

Davis said: "It is time for the chancellor to recognise not only the damage that cowboy builders do to the industry, but also the positive effects that the cut in VAT will have in reducing the informal economy and in supporting other government policies."