THERE are ongoing calls for village halls in Monmouthshire to receive 100 per cent relief from the business rate tax.

Currently, charities and village halls get business rates reduced by a mandatory 80 per cent, and it is left to the discretion of the local authority on whether that relief is increased.

Most authorities in the region, including Herefordshire and Torfaen, grant the extra 20 per cent relief.

In total it would cost Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) £16,654 to provide the same extra relief to village halls.

County councillor Debby Blakebrough and secretaries of seven village halls in the Trellech area have called on MCC for full support.

Cllr Blakebrough said: “It was this administration that changed the policy in the first place from 100 per cent support to 80 per cent.

“I am also aware that the settlement MCC received from Welsh Government for this coming financial year was £2.5 million better than expected based on the rurality argument and yet they are unable to find the £17,000 to support the rural communities through the village halls which provide services that MCC are unable to afford. I can only describe it as a mean tax.”

George Weston, secretary of Llanishen Village Hall said: “The £300 comes out of our amount for electricity, oil and repair bills. Most years we just about break even as a charity as we’re not for profit. Any money we get, goes out again on maintenance or into the community. We therefore get £300 less to spend on the local community a year. I know of another village hall with a bill of around £700, this money could be better spent in the community.”

Bob Dagger, chairman of Llandogo Village Hall said: “Business rate currently costs the hall about £200 a year, if we were in any adjoining county we would get 100 per cent relief.

“As always, the hall committee faces an uphill battle to maintain a safe and affordable facility for the village, this is in the light of ever rising costs.

“This extra £200 charge would probably necessitate an additional fund raising event, which are tending to be attendee by fewer residents.”

To address these concerns, MCC has released a statement from Cabinet Member for Finance Cllr Phil Murphy. He said: “Extending business rates relief to 100 per cent would add a further notable cost to our budget - money that would have to be disinvested elsewhere. 

“The council is therefore asking village hall and charity managements to submit evidence of hardship so that we might give further consideration on how best to protect our valued community assets.”