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Golf clubs having to ‘putt up’ with tax rises – but how is NW faring?

Now the 1 April deadline for business rates rises has come into effect, expect a slew of stories to surface as the reality hits home across industry sectors.

Hardships will undoubtedly be felt and voiced across the country but one I have focused on may be seem a bit niche but it is quite topical at the moment – golf clubs.

Some of you may be paid up club members already, fair weather players or aspiring McIlroys chasing an elusive single digit handicap, but the industry as a whole does seem to have hit hard times due to a fundamental shift in the membership base.

As golf fans prepare to settle in for one of the biggest golfing spectacles of the year – The Masters in glamourous Augusta in the US –  it is a far cry from the hundreds of smaller clubs across England and Wales which will be struggling to absorb business rate rises of up to 5% or more this financial year.

Operating margins are already being squeezed in many regions due to rising inflation and falling memberships, but the South West and Central England will also see the biggest business rate hikes across the sector. Fortunately for North West golf club owners they are projected to have a small average fall of 1.62% to look forward – most welcome but hardly game-changing I would think.

I had a good look at the national picture and discovered there are large regional disparities when it comes to the new 2017 Rating list.

Wentworth Golf Course – home to the BMW Championship – saw one of the biggest rises of 7%, from £750k to £800k, and now has the unfortunate accolade of having the highest golf Rateable Value (RV) in the country. Second place goes to Woburn Golf & Country Club at £520K. Royal Birkdale, which has the honor of hosting The Open this year in July, has remained at the same level across both rating lists – £162k.

These are top end of the RV scale, the average for England and Wales is circa £55k.

Here are the winners and losers when it comes to business rates across England and Wales:

REGION NUMBER OF ASSESSMENTS % – or +
East 330 -0.59%
Central 312 +5.13
London 107 +1.77
North East (inc Yorkshire) 294 +3.74
North West 287 -1.62
South East 304 +2.77
South West 304 +5.84
Wales 183 -2.65
TOTAL 2,121 +2.28

The sport faces significant challenges in the coming years and examining that against the industry’s RV’s, I can see many will be very disappointed with the revaluation outcome.

There is always the option to appeal but the Government is currently revamping the Appeal Process which seems to be making it harder not easier to challenge the Valuation Office Agency. My advice would be to check your business rates and seek guidance from a professional Rating advisor who can navigate you through the new legislation and undertake the challenge on your behalf.

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