Local authorities have a central role to play when it comes to the provision of community sport and recreation facilities.
From the local parks to leisure centres, they allow a huge range of leisure activities to be performed locally.
Authorities are also now responsible for the health outcomes for their populations – following reforms to the public health framework in April 2013.
However, despite their duty to promote healthy lifestyles, there is no statutory provision for sport – meaning there is no legal requirement for local authorities to provide facilities.
Currently, clubs are operating in a challenging environment due to local government spending cuts and authorities have more incentive to sell or close facilities which are used by clubs.
In some areas funding and support for sport and recreation are being drastically reduced.
To help you and your clubs get the most out of your local authority we provide guidance on:
- business rates
- discretionary rate relief
- community asset transfer
- community right to bid
- protecting your playing fields
Business rates are a local tax paid by the occupiers of all non-domestic property in England and Wales, with the funds being used to pay for essential local services.
How much you will pay will depend on the rateable value of the property, what multiplier is set by central government and what rate relief schemes you are eligible for.
Business rates must be paid by all property owning clubs.
Community clubs should check their rateable value via the government website to find out if it is accurate.
When making improvements to facilities, clubs should check what effect it will have on the club’s rateable value.
Section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 grants local authorities powers to give discretionary relief from business rates.
Local authorities will implement policies dependent on what type of organisation they want to promote in their area.
Discretionary rate relief is vital for many not for profit community clubs as it can save them thousands of pounds per year.
Asset transfer involves the transfer in ownership or management of a public facility to another organisation to run for the benefit of the community.
In certain circumstances it may be in the interest of community sport and recreation clubs to take on the management of facilities.
Careful planning is required to ensure that community organisations have the resources required to manage a long term business.
The Right to Bid scheme, a key plank of the government’s ‘localism’ agenda, aims to give more power to communities.
It allows communities to nominate land of value to them so that in the event of a sale they are allowed extra time to secure it for continued community use.
Clubs which use facilities not owned by a local authority and that consider it feasible to purchase the facility in the event of a sale, may wish to get the facility nominated to give them extra time to secure funding.
All sport and recreation facilities which are available to the public are assets of community value as they help enable sporting competition and encourage healthy lifestyles.
The planning system should help local communities lead healthy lifestyles by protecting valuable open space, sport and recreational facilities and enabling development that meets identified needs.
The current planning system protects open spaces, sport and recreation facilities from being built on unless a suitable alternative is provided.