LTA calls for support for grassroots tennis community in the Budget
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The LTA has called for a package of measures that would help the grassroots tennis community as it recovers from the effects of COVID-19 and, in turn, contribute towards the nation’s recovery.
The Government’s roadmap for the easing of lockdown restrictions allows outdoor tennis to resume in England on 29 March, but delays in business returning to normal operation and the prolonged period of inactivity for coaches and venues in the first part of the year means that further support is needed to ensure many individuals and organisations delivering tennis across the country can survive.
Indoor venues in England will not re-open until April 12, and even then they will only be able to cater for children and players from the same household. The network of 54 community indoor tennis centres is particularly at risk with one third in danger of closing permanently.
The LTA itself offered financial support to venues, coaches, officials and players in April 2020 and since then many, but not all memebers of the tennis community have benefited from the COVID Job Retention Scheme, Self Employed Income Support Scheme, Business Rate relief and VAT deferral, or the National Leisure Recovery Fund. The LTA is grateful for this support but is concerned that many venues and members of the tennis community face ongoing hardship and in some cases, the imminent threat of going out of business or permanent closure.
What they said...
Scott Lloyd, LTA Chief Executive: "We are very grateful for the schemes that HM Treasury has put in place to date, which have been very helpful for many of the clubs, venues, coaches and other organisations who help to deliver our sport. However some have been unable to access support, and there is a real risk that without further help now our sport will see venues close and coaches go out of business.
"Tennis makes a significant contribution to the economy as well as providing real physical and mental health benefits to those who participate and volunteer. It brings communities together and gives children an outlet to play. It is vital that our existing infrastructure – including our network of coaches - can be protected so that children and adults can enjoy our sport for years to come."
"Additional support is required from Government to ensure the many individuals and organisations that are vital in delivering tennis are able to survive through the coming months. That is why we are calling for this package of support measures and I have written to the Chancellor to request that they be considered in the forthcoming Budget.”
The measures the LTA has requested are included in Wednesday’s Budget are as follows:
- An extension and tapered end to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Tennis clubs, venues and businesses, particularly those with indoor facilities, are unlikely to return to full capacity until much later in the year. The furlough scheme has been universally the most helpful scheme for tennis clubs and venues throughout the impact of the pandemic.
- An extension of business rate relief for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors for at least a further year. Whilst not all tennis clubs and venues pay business rates as many have Community Amateur Sports Club or charity status, an extension of the business rates holiday would be very helpful for many tennis venues, especially the medium to larger venues who have been particularly affected by restrictions.
- A further deferral of VAT payments for businesses in the sport and leisure sector and other VAT related measures. An extension of the deferral until at least the summer would provide additional support for a range of businesses involved in tennis in Britain.
- Support for those self-employed workers who have missed out on financial support from Government to date. The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme has been helpful for many tennis coaches (who are predominantly self-employed), but some have missed out on Government support for a range of reasons, including because they became newly self-employed coaches after 6 April 2019, or have a PAYE/self-employment mix with less than 50% of income from self-employment. Tennis coaches who are directors of limited companies have also typically missed out on support. A targeted one-off income grant for those who have not been able to access support is needed, to help ensure that coaches are able to resume their role in helping keep the nation active as restrictions are relaxed.
- An extension of the National Leisure Recovery Fund. The £100million support fund announced in October by Government was welcome, and will provide support to some public indoor tennis facilities in England – facilities which have a real strategic importance to the future of the sport and are at the heart of their communities. However, additional support is required to help these community indoor tennis centres re-open, given many have been ineligible for much of the Government’s financial support with the exception of the furlough scheme, and their charitable/trust status and that they do not pay business rates. Without additional support, one-third are currently at risk of closing permanently.