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Jan 01 2010

Don’t stop the music – village halls, churches and charities face new tax

tax-imageGovernment to hit local voluntary groups across Harrow with new music charges. Churches, village halls, charity shops and sports clubs across Harrow face a new £20 million tax from Gordon Brown’s Government, Bob Blackman, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Harrow East warned.

In the small print of obscure new regulations, the Government is abolishing charities’ and voluntary groups’ long-standing exemption from music licensing rules – hitting them with unexpected new bills just for holding events with recorded music or for playing a radio.

To date, voluntary groups have not had to pay for a so-called “PPL” performance rights licence in order to play recorded music. This exemption reflects the public benefit that such organisations provide, but this is now being abolished by the Government.

This will affect church worship, charity discos, tea dances, youth clubs, dancing groups, sports clubs and even charity shops which have a radio in their staff room. The changes are being imposed by Peter Mandelson’s Whitehall empire. The new levy will come into effect in April 2010 once the new regulations are ratified by Parliament. Conservatives are opposing these changes and standing up for local voluntary groups.

The Government admits that the new levies will cost voluntary groups £20 million a year. Some organisations will “cease playing music” because they cannot afford a licence, and it will hit a quarter of a million organisations – 140,000 charities, 6,750 charity shops, 66,440 sports clubs, 4,000 community buildings, 5,000 rural halls and 45,000 religious buildings.

These new levies are on top of bureaucratic rules imposed by the Licensing Act 2003, which requires expensive ‘premises licences’ for village halls to hold regular small-scale social functions, and which has imposed new red tape to play unamplified live music.

Bob Blackman said:

“This is another Labour assault on the fabric of British community life. Having effectively shut down post offices and local pubs across Harrow, Labour’s Whitehall bureaucrats now have our village halls, scout huts, charity shops and churches in their sights. This is a heartless tax on community buildings and charities. The Government should think again and don’t stop the music.”