Dumfriesshire MSP has written to the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Investment, Keith Brown MSP, calling for the reversal of the introduction of water charges to Community Halls across the region.
Community Halls in Dumfriesshire received letters from Scottish Water Business Stream Ltd at the beginning of March, stating that the Scottish Government has made some changes to its Charities Exemption Scheme and that they would incur charges from the 1st April if they did not meet the new criteria.
Only OSCR registered Charities and Community Amateur Sports Club’s (CASC) will be exempt when the new rules are brought in, meaning community halls will be faced with hundreds of pounds worth of charges in the new financial year after being given less than a month’s warning.
Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray said:
“Community Hall Committees across Dumfriesshire have been in contact with me over the past couple of weeks after discovering that the Scottish Government have withdrawn their exemption for water charges, unless they register with OSCAR as charities. They are now going to be hit with hundreds of pounds worth of charges after being given less than a month’s notice. These Halls are run by dedicated volunteers, who already struggle to balance their books as it is. Clearly these charges are going to risk their future, which would be a total disaster for communities across the region. The Scottish Government say they consulted on these changes, but no community hall committees in Dumfries and Galloway was aware of this consultation.”
“At the end of this week, the Scottish Parliament will be dissolved in preparation for the elections. My worry is that this will result in issues like this being pushed to the bottom of the agenda. Community Halls can’t afford to wait until after the elections if they are going to be faced with these charges in just a couple of short weeks. The Scottish Government need to urgently U-turn on what some of my constituents have called their “stealth tax” immediately.”