On 23 March the Chancellor made his annual Budget Statement in which he outlined his vision for stimulating growth and cutting regulation.
Most noticeable for the sporting sector, and CASCs in particular, are changes to Gift Aid as part of the Government’s proposals to encourage charitable giving:
- Simplification of the administration of Gift Aid – which will migrate to online rather than written claims
- An increase in benefit limits for rewarding donors from £500 to £2,500
- Clubs able to claim sums of less than £5,000 without filling in Gift Aid declarations.
As part of the Chancellor’s 'plan for growth' corporation tax will decrease by 2% this year and will continue to fall to 23%, the lowest level of any G7 country, by 2014.
The Budget also lists the 43 tax reliefs
which the Office of Tax Simplification requested for review. The Sport and Recreation Alliance lobbied the Treasury specifically on the tax reliefs for safety developments in sporting stadia which are under threat. This relief will now not be abolished straight away, but will be in the lowest priority of categories which will see consultation first, followed by inclusion in finance bills after 2012. The Alliance will continue to lobby against its abolition. For a full list of the 43 tax reliefs see the Budget Red Book p66.
The Chancellor announced a shake-up of the planning system, arguing that it should no longer hold back investment and deter economic growth. Proposals included measures to streamline planning applications and ensure a fast-track process for major infrastructure applications. The Budget also introduces a new presumption in favour of sustainable development, making the default answer to development ‘yes’. The Sport and Recreation Alliance will remain vigilant of the potential negative impact of these changes and will continue to lobby the Government to ensure that changes to the planning framework do not undermine access for recreational activity.
Other aspects the Budget relevant to sport are as follows:
- On fuel duty, the Chancellor announced that the 4p rise in duty which was due to come into effect next month has been cancelled, and that a 1p cut in duty would take affect at 6pm on the evening of 23 March.
- The Government plans to consult shortly on proposals to address water affordability, with particular focus on areas with particularly high water bills, such as the South West.
- It was also announced that as part of the Government’s de-regulation drive dual discrimination rules (set out in the Equality Act) will not be brought forward.
- Finally, the Chancellor confirmed that Lord Young’s review of health and safety will be implemented.