Sports stars demand end to rain tax

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The Independent Online

Former England sports stars Brian Moore and Mike Gatting will deliver a petition to the Government today demanding that community sports clubs be exempt from a controversial tax which could close them.

Sports centres on minimal budgets have been struggling to pay the so-called rain tax - a levy on the amount of rainwater falling on properties and running into drains.

The calculation is based on a property's surface area, meaning that small clubs maintaining big sports fields have been hit with massive bills.

Moore, the BBC Sport pundit and former Rugby Union star, launched a petition campaigning against the tax last month.

Today Moore and former England cricket captain Gatting will present Huw Irranca-Davies, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), with the document which has more than 2,000 signatures.

At the top of the petition, Moore writes: "Changes in the way water charges are levied by some companies mean that some community non-profit sporting clubs are currently facing increases of more than 1,000% over the next few years and could be threatened with extinction as a result.

"Yet these clubs are recognised by their local councils as being non-profit organisations and receive up to an 80% rebate on their council charges.

"The value such organisations give to their local areas is immeasurable - for older people, young people and those from different communities. They should not be put under threat because of such an increase."

The Scouts and the Church of England have also both launched campaigns against the levy, arguing that money spent meeting rain tax payments could be better spent on more charitable activities.

A Defra spokesman said: "There is something is clearly very wrong if community amateur sports clubs and churches are facing hikes in their bills of several hundred per cent.

"Defra ministers will meet Ofwat officials for an urgent report on progress."