I am issuing a rallying call for all sports clubs across the constituency to apply for a specialist status to avoid having to pay full business rates.
The move comes after I successfully backed Chatteris Town Football Club in its application to HM Revenue and Customs to become a Community Amateur Sports Club.
A letter confirming the status – backdated to March 1 – has now been received by the football club, which is struggling to meet its many bills, including paying the £2,500 annual business rates and also to heat and maintain the club house.
As a CASC the football club will have 80 per cent of its business rates written off and I am now asking Fenland District Council to use its discretionary powers to write off the remainder, too.
I am now urging all other sports clubs who are paying business rates to make a similar application and I’m asking them to contact my office if help is needed in making a submission.
I am also asking Fenland District Council for a list of clubs across the district so I can write to them individually to spread the message about CASC status.
As in the case of Chatteris Town Football Club business rates is a major cost to local clubs and takes a lot of effort to raise the money each year to pay. By seeking CASC status those costs can be dramatically reduced.
It means changing a club’s constitution so that if it goes bust any assets go to charity and not to members. But most people do not join a club for financial gain, so this should not be too much of an issue. I am also asking Fenland District Council to waive the other 20 per cent of business rates payable by clubs with CASC status – especially given that half of the money collected goes to the government and the other half goes to the district council.
It would mean that while all of the 20 per cent saving goes to the club only half of the cost is borne by the local Council Tax payer.
I am also now preparing to help Chatteris Town seek funding from Sport England and the FA for work to help reduce other costs, including looking at installing solar panels, new windows and better insulation on the club house to cut heating and maintenance bills.