Local Authority Funding
County, City, Borough, District and Parish Councils
Nearly all Local Authorities have departments dealing with the development of recreation and leisure. Substantial grants can be available through County Councils or City Councils. There are general guidelines for grant aid through Local Authority sources and the following types of grants are often available:
- Grants and loans to help capital projects such as developing buildings, pitches and land purchase
- Revenue grants for improving or restoring existing property, purchasing equipment or running major sports development initiatives or participating in sports kite marking schemes
- Grants for talented performers to help towards the cost of competition or training
Most District Councils have grant funds for sports facilities and community centres and some will help with equipment and administrative costs. Details of schemes vary and contact with the relevant District Council is essential to determine grant aid procedures. As well as, or instead of grants, District Councils may give rate relief to registered charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs and, in some instances, special clubs.
Parish Councils may give financial assistance under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976; section 19.1 for recreation projects in their areas and may provide facilities at subsidised cost. Details can be obtained from the relevant Parish/District Council Clerk.
Rate Reductions and Relief
Although not strictly grant aid or development funding, success in reducing the burden of non-domestic rates can be equally effective in easing a club's financial position.
Your annual rates bill is calculated by multiplying together the annual rate poundage (fixed in England and Wales by central government) and the rateable value for the property (fixed by the Inland Revenue Valuation Office). While you can do nothing about the former, you can challenge the latter if you consider it to be excessive. Before you do so, compare your rateable value with those of other voluntary sports clubs in your local area.
Remember that buildings are far more valuable pro rata than land, modern buildings are usually more valuable than older ones, and permanent structures more valuable than temporary ones. If you decide to appeal, this is easily initiated by completing a form obtainable from the Valuation Office which deals with your area (the back of your rates bill should give the details of where to apply).
If your assessment is large or the property is complex, you may wish to consider engaging a qualified and suitably experienced rating surveyor to act on the club's behalf.
Local billing authorities have discretionary powers to reduce rate bills for non profit making organisations if they fulfil certain criteria. While relief of up to 100 per cent can be allowed, a 50 per cent allowance is more usual in cases where the authority approves an application. Remember that the relief is entirely discretionary and is not available as of right, so you will need to persuade the local authority that your case is worthwhile.
Approach the finance department of your local authority for details of how to make an approach and what supporting documentation and information will be needed (often audited accounts and membership statistics and profiles are requested). If you already receive relief but a low level (perhaps only 25 per cent) consider whether to ask for an increase in allowance.
Relief of this nature is reviewable each year and applications cannot usually be backdated so do not delay lodging your claim. Once granted, check each year that it is to continue.
Community Amateur Sports Clubs
The Government announced in September 2003 the welcome news that sports clubs registered as Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) will now be eligible for mandatory rate relief. This is in addition to the package of potentially valuable tax benefits already available to CASCs.