Sporting save by Suffolk peer

AMATEUR sports clubs struggling for financial survival have been handed a lifeline after a long-running campaign to secure rate relief for community projects paid off.

AMATEUR sports clubs struggling for financial survival have been handed a lifeline after a long-running campaign to secure rate relief for community projects paid off.

The fight, spearheaded by Lord Phillips of Sudbury, means teams could save thousands from new tax exemption rules announced on Friday.

Groups from across Suffolk who have previously struggled to make ends meet could benefit greatly from the change, Lord Phillips said, which will bring clubs in line with charities regarding rate relief.

"Estimates say between £10 and £30million will be saved by clubs across the country every year," said Lord Phillips, who has campaigned for the change for the past four years.


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"This money can be used to improve facilities, helping grassroots sports survive.

"I am really over the moon about this. It is a change which will have a stealthy, ongoing effect over the years, making a significant difference to the life and times of local sports.

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"Clubs are one of the most important single elements in securing community life, and work on a basis where they include people of all ages and from all backgrounds.

"The British get very excited about our sports stars. We should consider the fact that none of our professionals would be where they are today if it was not for the work of local clubs, run on nothing more than the goodwill and enthusiasm of the volunteers."

The matter was due to be discussed in the House of Lords as an amendment to the Local Government Bill, but has instead been adopted by the Government, with the exemption in force by the end of this year.

To benefit, groups must apply for Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASC) status, which allows them to become quasi-charities.

This will also ensure any financial donations given to clubs by local people will remain tax-exempt.

"Everyone is panicking about the loss of community life, but these clubs are indiscriminating and can include everybody," added Lord Phillips.

"This will have a significant social impact, which will show its true value over a period of time."

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