There has been a lot floating around on twitter and other social media venues recently in regards to the UK rain tax. I have spent the last few days trying to comprehend what it is all about. Here is my understanding and take on it.
Various water utility companies are now charging non profits, including Scout Groups for the draining of rain water in the sewer. The tax is based on area. This means if there is a roff or even a tamac, it will now be taxed where in the past they were exempt. The tax itself is added to the metered water bill. The rain tax only effects only those Scout Groups that own or lease the building where they meet.
The only way these units can avoid or reduce the rain tax is by building a soakaway or implment rain water recycling. The UK Scout Organization did a survey and found only half of the Scout properties had enough space to do this and far less had the funds to do it.
Also as Nick points out in his blog (http://blog.nawbus.co.uk/?p=857)
“...what image does it portray of our political system if young people who are not old enough to vote are not allowed to make their point to politicians at Westminster? It could have put them off voting or trying to get involved in making their local communities better places.”
Since he wrote that blog post I quoted above young Scouts have been re-allowed to have there voices heard.
The added cost of this rain tax can be as much as 25% of there yearly budget. This adds extra financial strains to the already strained budgets most Scout groups already have. Many non-profits including the Scouts are asking for exemptions from the tax. After all the harder hit there budgets the less they can do and offer.
Here are a few quotes I found on the UK Scout Organizations website.
“As a result of Ofwat’s (the water regulator) action, I may have to explain to young Beaver Scouts that they could soon have to raid their piggy banks for an extra £5. It is not something I am looking forward to.
The only response left is to lobby our MPs to have this undemocratic charge reversed. I am sure it is a challenge my colleagues will rise to.”
- John Duley, County Commissioner for Bedfordshire
“There is clearly something wrong with bills increasing like that.”
- Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for the Environment
I hope this sheds some light on what the rain tax is all about, at least for those of us who are not in the UK and thus are not following it that closely. You can also learn more about the rain tax on the UK Scouting website at http://scouts.org.uk/water.
If you have any thoughts, please post them as comments below.