The Leisure and Cultural Services module includes areas where there have been radical changes in VAT for local authorities in recent years.

Leisure Services

After losing long-running litigation, HMRC accepted in 2023 that non-business treatment of leisure services provided by local authorities could apply.  However, the term leisure services encompass a wide range of activities, and a local authority might make standard-rated, zero-rated, exempt, and non-business supplies from the same leisure facility.  The Leisure and Cultural Services module will give participants the ability to differentiate between different leisure services and identify the correct VAT treatment.

The course will also explore the potential for outsourced provision to be brought back in-house, or for outsourced providers to act as the agent of a local authority.

Cultural services

Local authorities can apply a VAT exemption to their cultural services. It is rare to have a choice about how to apply VAT.
The Leisure and Cultural Services module will help participants understand how the VAT exemption could apply, the procedures for implementing the treatment, and the benefits and drawbacks of its implementation.

There is also an explanation of the principles of principal and agent as they apply to ticket sales, which must be considered when reaching agreements with the providers of shows.

The Leisure and Cultural Services module

The topics covered include:

  • Overview of VAT principles and partial exemption*
  • Leisure:
    • What are Leisure Services, Sports Facilities and Sporting Lets?
    • Historic position for local authorities
    • Outsourcing (principal model)
    • Special Legal Regime and HMRC’s current position
    • Insourcing, and outsourcing (agency model)
    • What needs to be done now
  • Culture:
    • What are cultural services and the VAT exemption?
    • Public bodies and eligible bodies
    • How to implement exemption
    • Benefits and drawbacks of exemption
    • Outsourcing to cultural trusts
    • Ticket sales – principal or agent?

* Please note that the overview of VAT principles and partial exemption section is only a recap.  We would advise that anyone who does not already have an understanding of VAT should attend at least our two-part “Introduction to VAT – The Basics” course first.

The course would benefit:

  • those with day-to-day responsibility for VAT management
  • capital accountants
  • capital project managers
  • leisure and cultural services accountants
  • those with senior management responsibility for the VAT function

The cost of this training course is £210 plus VAT for PSTAX Club subscribers and £250 plus VAT per course for other delegates. There is a 10% discount for more than one booking.

If you book and subsequently find that you cannot attend, please email

Please confirm your bookings as soon as possible. If you wish to train more than six staff you may like to consider an in-house training course.