Budget delivers good news for village halls
by Deborah Clarke, Village Halls/ Rural Evidence Manager

ACRE is delighted with announcement in the Budget yesterday that the government will provide up to £8 million to help with the cost of repairs and alterations to village halls, Miners’ Welfare facilities and Armed Forces organisations’ facilities.

ACRE submitted a budget representation last month urging the government to pledge £3 million in the Budget to refund the VAT paid by village halls on improvement work such as modern kitchen and toilet facilities and new meeting rooms. We are grateful for all the evidence provided by hall committees that helped to put the case together.

Small village hall charities are not VAT registered so they cannot reclaim the 20% VAT on building work to update older halls, which means that a £200,000 refurbishment project incurs an extra £40,000 in non-reclaimable VAT. This tax on voluntary effort is widely felt to be unfair. Charitable community buildings underpin community life, particularly in rural areas where they provide essential facilities for a wide range of community groups such as pre-schools, youth clubs, WIs, lunch clubs for the elderly and sports groups.

ACRE Chairman, David Emerson CBE commented “This is a great first step towards reducing costs for the repair, update and upkeep of VHs, and in particular ACRE’s campaign for a pilot refund scheme on VAT for village hall improvements.

This is a great first step towards reducing costs for the repair, update and upkeep of VHs, and in particular ACRE’s campaign for a pilot refund scheme on VAT for village hall improvements

It follows more widely from the longstanding lobbying of MPs by the ACRE Network, and of the collation of evidence and key arguments over a long period. It is a powerful example of what partnership working can achieve. Of course we need more for village halls, and we need to continue pushing, but this is clear demonstration that a well evidenced and strongly argued case by an effective Network can achieve positive change, and it will make our case more powerful in future”

ACRE is waiting for more detail on how the allocation of funds will work. Sign up to the National Village and Community Halls Network here to keep up to date with developments.