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Sports Clubs (VAT)

Volume 534: debated on Thursday 3 November 2011

13. What discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the effects on levels of participation in sports of the VAT status of sports clubs. (78185)

A range of tax benefits is available to community clubs under the CASC—community amateur sports clubs—scheme, including 80% mandatory rate relief, gift aid on donations, and exemption from some levels of corporation tax. I wrote to the Economic Secretary on 10 August to ask that tax exemption thresholds be increased in line with inflation. To date, just over 6,000 clubs have registered and have benefited from an estimated £100 million in savings since the launch of the scheme.

I thank the Minister for his response. Will he look in particular at an issue that has been raised with me by Powerleague, a five-a-side organisation that believes that the tax arrangements on VAT, which had been in place for the past 20 years but have recently been changed, will have a heavy impact on its membership?

I wrote to the Treasury to take that issue up on behalf of a number of small five-a-side providers. The issue is not that the regulation has changed but simply that its interpretation has been clarified. Some providers were paying VAT, but others were not. That conversation is ongoing, but the point of the intervention by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs was to level the playing field.

I thank the Minister for his answer to the right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake). I would like to raise the same issue: in Stopsley in my constituency is facing challenges to its finances as a result of the changes. Surely if the regulation has been applied in a certain way for the past 20 years, suddenly to change it now would be a silly idea.

The issue is fairness in the tax system. If some providers are being taxed in a certain way and others are not, that provides a competitive advantage that many would argue is unfair. What is important is that the same rules apply, whatever they are. As I said, we are in discussions with the Treasury and we will continue those discussions. The important thing is that the rules are applied equitably to all providers.