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Call to reduce VAT on sports to 5%
February 15, 2012

One of Britain's most influential sportswomen is campaigning for the Government to adopt a 5% VAT rate for all sport in the next budget. It would help make sports more affordable and accessible.

Vivien Saunders OBE, former British Women's Open Golf Champion, is spearheading the campaign to reduce the cost of sport.

Vivien "Politicians are openly saying that the nation's youngsters need to get fitter and to be more attracted to sport. They keep talking about the legacy of the Olympics. But the Government has failed to adopt the reduced rate of VAT on sport at 5% which the European Union encourages. Sixteen other countries have adopted Reduced Rate VAT for playing and watching sport - from 3% in Luxembourg to 9% in the Irish Republic. Our politicians are letting down the nations' sportsmen and women by sticking to the 20%. And yet we see them day after day in the media trying to promote greater participation. I assume they are out of touch on this subject.

"Many people will see playing sport as a luxury. They will question why, with many people and businesses struggling financially, we should reduce VAT on sport. The answer is very simple. The wealthiest people in sport, who can afford to belong to The All England Club, the MCC, Queen's, Sunningdale and Royal St. George's Golf Club, have totally VAT exempt sport and pay no VAT at all.

"The essence of sport is that it should be fair. As it stands at present, a golfer who can afford to pay £2,000 a year to join a smart, member-owned golf club escapes VAT altogether. But the man in the street - whether young, old, disabled or disadvantaged - pays VAT at 20% on his sport. And so do his wives and daughters!

"Technically if members own their own club they get VAT exempt golf; the man in the street is being clobbered for 20% VAT on his sport!? It is laughable and unfair on the consumer.

"It is disgraceful inequality which was created by the Conservative Government in 1993 and made worse by Labour in 1999. Politicians didn't understand the issues then; most don't grasp it now. MPs who belong to sports clubs with VAT exempt fees should openly declare their interest in the subject.

"I have launched an e-petition on the Government website calling for a Parliamentary debate. We need 100,000 signatures by February 22nd . See http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/12244

But really we are looking for immediate action on this. We want support for sport in the Budget, with the UK adopting the 5% VAT rate. How can we go into the Olympics promoting inequality, elitism and distortion? If the Olympic selection committee had known of the tax distortion, London probably wouldn't have been awarded the Games! It's time politicians put things right.

"We are simply asking for a level playing field and fair play - not the present injustice of the wealthy getting VAT exempt sport and the man in the street being clobbered at 20%."








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