Government plans to tidy up the law on community amateur sports clubs

HM Revenue & Customs to consult on provisions for the next Finance Bill, including the criteria clubs must meet, says Treasury minister Sajid Javid

The government is to introduce legislation to clear up confusion about which organisations are eligible to register as community amateur sports clubs.

CASCs that are registered with HM Revenue & Customs can claim charitable tax reliefs including Gift Aid and relief on corporation tax.

Clubs must meet certain criteria, including being open to the whole community and being organised on an "amateur basis". Their main purpose must be providing facilities for and promoting participation in one or more of about 140 eligible sports, HMRC guidance says.

But a written ministerial statement yesterday from Sajid Javid, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said some of the eligibility rules were unclear and made it difficult for HMRC to always be sure about whether a club is entitled to relief.

Javid said some areas required legislation, so the government would include provisions in the next Finance Bill, to be published on 28 March, that would allow clearer rules to be set through secondary legislation.

HMRC will hold a consultation on proposed new rules for the criteria that organisations must meet in order to be eligible.

Topics will include the maximum fees that clubs can charge, which the consultation will propose as £1,040 a year with certain caveats, the limits on generating income from non-sporting activities and the introduction of more generous travel allowances for sportspeople.

Some existing CASCs might have to make changes to the way they operate in order to keep their status, Javid warned, such as introducing help for people on low incomes to pay membership fees.

Any club that has applied for CASC status will have their application put on hold while the rules are updated, said Javid. The regulations are expected to be laid before parliament in the autumn.

"Clearer, more certain rules would help existing and prospective clubs to be confident about what they need to do to qualify, and would help to ensure that the scheme fully achieves the government’s aim of supporting and encouraging sport at a community level," he said.

More than 6,000 clubs have registered as CASCs since the concept was introduced in 2002. Tim Lamb, chief executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, an umbrella body for 320 organisations, said the consultation was a "positive opportunity for sport to make its voice heard on the future direction of CASCs".

"It is a clear indication that the current legislation defining the scheme is not as good as it should be and various outstanding technical issues need to be addressed," he said. Lamb said he hoped that sports bodies would be able to promote a clearer and more flexible CASC scheme by autumn this year.

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