Working to reduce the VAT burden for Village Halls

28th February 2017
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VAT refund/grant scheme for improvement and extension of charitable village halls and similar rural community buildings.

Derbyshire MPs have received a letter recently to help generate parliamentary support for the ACRE lead proposal to remove the VAT burden on improvements and extensions to charitable village halls. The letter is below:

Dear MP

As you are aware Derbyshire has a strong community and values its assets both physical and its sense of community. This attitude is amply demonstrated by the work and commitment of the Trustees and users of the Village Hall, who continually strived to raise funds for the development and improvement of the Hall.

Rural Action Derbyshire (RAD), supported by our national body ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) has provided an advisory service to rural community buildings for over 90 years. As part of this role, we continually strive to lobby policy makers on issues affecting the long-term sustainability and management of our vital community buildings.

This proposal is for the establishment of a closely targeted VAT refund/grant scheme with an initial budget of £3million p.a. which would assist volunteer trustees running charitable village halls and similar rural community buildings to update and adapt older buildings to better serve their communities in the light of changes in society. ACRE’s National Village Hall Survey 20091 identified that around £7 million irrecoverable VAT had been incurred by charitable village halls in rural England on upkeep, adaptation and improvement of older halls over the previous 5 years. When VAT of £20,000 to £50,000 falls on hard won fundraising efforts, and reducing sources of grant funding the burden is a heavy one for small numbers of communities each year. Communities who have spent long periods of time fundraising for significant capital sums for once in a generation renovation and or improvement work costing upwards of £100,000. The impact of the VAT burden has been to delay or cut work which delivers multiple economic and social benefits.

A similar scheme is available for Local Authorities and church buildings.

On behalf of some 280 rural community buildings in Derbyshire, I appeal to our Members of Parliament to read the attached proposal and invite them to act on this important issue prior to the Budget. If you feel as strongly as we do, can I ask for your support by writing to the Treasury VAT Minister, Jane Ellison (Financial Secretary to the Treasury) to highlight this significant proposal.

Thank you in anticipation of your support.

To see the ACRE briefing document, please click here .