Scottish government expands water charge exemption scheme to four out of five charities

Charities and community amateur sports clubs with annual incomes of less than £200,000 will not have to pay water and sewerage charges, according to a minister's letter

Many Scottish charities will now be exempt from water charges
Many Scottish charities will now be exempt from water charges

The Scottish government has expanded a scheme that will exempt four out of five Scottish charities from paying water and sewerage charges, in a move worth £6.5m.

From 1 April 2015 until 2021, all charities and community amateur sports clubs in Scotland with annual incomes of less than £200,000 will not have to pay those bills, it was announced in a letter from Nicola Sturgeon, the Deputy First Minister, to the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee.

Almost 80 per cent of the nearly 24,000 registered Scottish charities qualify for this, according to figures from the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator’s website.

Charities with annual incomes of between £200,000 and £300,000 – of which there are 674, according to the OSCR – will also receive a 50 per cent discount on their bills, Sturgeon’s letter says.

Sturgeon says in the letter that the scheme will cost an estimated £6.5m, of which £4.5m will be funded by Scottish Water and the remainder by the government.

The scheme has been in place since 2002, but for the year 2014/15 is available only to charities with a net annual income of less than £66,000.

The letter from Sturgeon says that other, unspecified conditions of the scheme would mean some charities losing their existing exemption and that these would be given a "two-year graduated transition". She said the scheme’s administration would be simplified.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish government was unable to confirm why some organisations might lose their exemptions.

"The new scheme is a significant improvement on the existing scheme and affords an estimated £2m of extra help to the charitable sector, recognising the significant contribution that charities make to Scotland’s wellbeing and prosperity," the spokeswoman said.

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