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Take VAT off gym prices, says head of Pure Gym

If we want people to work out, why are we charging them tax on it?

The head of Pure Gym, Humphrey Cobbold, said on Radio 5 yesterday that the thing stopping people going to the gym isn’t laziness (cheers Humphrey) - it’s price.

What it means: If we’re supposedly in an ‘obesity crisis’, surely the government should be trying to incentivise people to get a workout in, he says. According to Cobbold, a 20% price discount on standard gym prices could do the trick.

VAT (or ‘value-added-tax’) was created by the EU to standardise tax on consumption of goods and services, It’s charged on gym memberships at the standard rate of 20%. The Treasury, who run the government’s finances, say they can’t change that at the moment because of EU laws.

But sports services are actually exempt from VAT, if they’re run by a non-profit. Cobbold’s arguing that’s not right: if we want to encourage sport, we should give people accessing exercise facilities through private services the same perks as those accessing them through public services, particularly as there just aren't enough sports-focused non-profits to cater to everyone.

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Reader Comments

  • RW

    Your right to a degree. You mentioned “the wandering Jew”.

    I elaborate that the Jewish people, historically have tended to migrate almost exclusively to locations that are economically and culturally vibrant already. I would speculate that Jews have thrived in these places and have often improved the bounds of their economies and knowledge base.

    You can also ask; how many massive entertainment conglomerates, Nobel winners or billionaires has Isreal developed? If Jews are so capable, why isn’t Tel Aviv the Rome of our time?

    Jews are successful because they value education, maintain a strong social cohesive, they actively monitor and have a good sense for Zeitgeist wherever they are and they carefully choose the places they settle and congregate themselves heavily in these choice locations.

    But most importantly (haulocaust increased the importance of this aspect), they actually designed their culture for success. They not only attend Harvard, they use what they learned to better the group as a whole. With as much, they studied intricate networking systems, adapted to it and in many cases improved upon them. (See how Japan acquired Aegis warships and made them better).

    Of course there is nothing wrong with any of this. It’s when you elaborately gain disproportionate power in any society where you would stand out, you must take care when attempting to make a society better (Civil Rights movement) and rewriting that society all together (mass immigration). Ask blacks in China, Mexico, Philippines or India how much opportunity they have? Go to businesses owned by their American diaspora and see how many blacks they hire. Go to Silicon Valley and see how many East or South Asian tech workers wish they could work with more black people. California might work as a state, but as a nation, I think your rolling the nuclear dice here. I hope we can succeed as a tolerant pluralistic superpower but at this stage in human societal development, it’s a pipe dream.

    And if Jews really are the icon for success, they would see that fundamental human successes happen over generations. Just look at the rest of the planet? Are we ready?