Ringmer Village Hall chairman calls for tax breaks to help community facilities

Ringmer Village Hall
Ringmer Village Hall
  • Volunteers should not have to fundraise to pay VAT bills on improvement work to charity run community facilities
  • Isolation can become the norm for people in rural areas especially in an aging population
  • Village halls and churches are often the only community facilities left

The chairman of Ringmer Village Hall was this week calling for the Government to provide tax breaks to village halls and support rural communities,

Alan West, who is also the vice chairman of the National Village Halls Forum, said volunteers should not have to fundraise to pay VAT bills on improvement work to charity run community facilities.

Mr West said: “Ringmer Village Hall is so well used that we need to extend it to better serve the village.

“It has taken years to raise the funds for a small extension and over £40,000 will be wasted on VAT that could be spent on better facilities.

“However, we could not have got this far with our plans without the help and experience from the ACRE Network Village Halls Adviser provided by Action in Rural Sussex.

Mr West said ACRE Network Village Hall services were seen as essential by village halls to support them but cutbacks in Government and local authority funding have led to a loss of experienced advisors across the country.

Mr West added: “Little notice has been taken of the threat to the wellbeing of the people living in rural communities from the closure of shops, pubs and post offices, while the threat from fracking and damaging development makes headlines.

“Travel costs are higher in rural areas and with scarce public transport a car is needed by people who cannot afford it. “Isolation can become the norm for people, especially in an aging population.

“Often the last remaining “community” facilities are the Village Hall and Church. Good facilities and active groups help maintain a vibrant, inclusive rural community.”

The National Village Halls Forum, which campaigns on behalf of 10,000 community buildings in rural England, is urging the Government to introduce tax breaks and support for volunteer trustees in the forthcoming budget.

The forum identified small amounts of Government funding would help provide facilities which were more financially viable, support social enterprises and help improve the economy and social fabric of rural areas.

It is asking for the refund of VAT paid on improvement projects, for finance for the national network of Village Hall Advisers provided by ACRE and to reduce bureaucracy around granting rate relief and VAT reductions on energy costs.

The forum said a grant aid scheme towards the 20 per cent VAT levied on building works would make it easier for trustees to improve village halls.

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