Report finds huge disparities in the business rates golf clubs pay

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 18, 2020 06:22

An independent report on the UK’s business rates system has found that golf clubs pay amounts that range from £26 to £88 per member.

This follows a year in which several golf clubs have stated that their rateable value is unfair, particularly as it has been linked to coronavirus support.

The report has been submitted to the treasury as part of its call for evidence on how the system currently works, issues to be addressed, ideas for change and what alternative taxes can be issued.

Commissioned by The R&A, England Golf and The PGA and produced by the Sport Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, the report make clear the importance of golf to the UK economically and socially, and to the wide variation that exists.

For example, the Sport Industry Research Centre found that clubs pay between £24 and £51 per square metre, with one course paying nearly £17,000 more than another that is only seven metres squared smaller. The disparity is more marked when comparing membership numbers, with some clubs paying £26 per member, rising to £88.

The UK Golf Federation submitted additional evidence on behalf of its members.

With only so much capacity a golf course can sustain, any additional cost must be passed onto members. That report concludes by stating “for the benefit of the golf sector as a whole, there is merit in those charged with representing golf’s interests contributing to… [Valuation Office Agency] research and providing current sector-specific knowledge to the process… to inform the assumptions that are used to derive rateable values.”

Craig Tracey MP (left) and Jesse Norman MP

Industry bodies involved in the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf (APPG) have submitted the responses to HM Treasury’s Fundamental Review of Business Rates, saying it is important that the derivation of business rates is fair, transparent and accurately reflects the nature of the golf industry, and recommending that the government should work with golf industry representative bodies rather than at individual club level.

The report was submitted in person to treasury minister Jesse Norman MP by the APPG’s chairman, North Warwickshire MP Craig Tracey.

Speaking after the meeting, Tracey said “It is right the treasury look at business rates and are asking the kind of fundamental questions they are. The reports handed to the minister today are thoroughly well-researched submissions that make the case very clearly that the application of business rates across the UK is not consistent for golf clubs and that there are alternatives that can be applied.

“With the economic impact that golf makes the UK in terms of revenue generated for the exchequer, as well employment and the clear health benefits that have a knock-on effect for NHS savings, a clearer, uniform approach to business rates for golf courses would make a huge difference, ultimately see more people enjoying the sport.”

Submissions can be accessed here.

Meanwhile, a debate on the petition to exempt golf courses from the list of venues required to close due to Covid-19 will take place in the House of Commons at 4:30pm on Monday, November 23.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 18, 2020 06:22
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1 Comment

  1. Jeremy S November 19, 12:19

    The real story here is that a huge number of CASC registered Private Golf clubs get 80-100% rates relief while the commercial sector pays through the nose. And I wonder who is complaining here …. oh yes its the Private Clubs. What a surprise.

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