By Kate Brown
The head of Pure Gym, Humphrey Cobbold, is calling for the government to remove VAT from gym memberships in order to improve the nation’s health. Launched in 2009, Puregym has gained 1 million members who have subscriptions starting at just £9.99 a month.
Humphrey Cobbold reported that his customers are not in perfect fitness and were working hard to achieve “better body shape and better mental shape”. He told Wake Up to Money, “It seems a little strange for the government to tax that at 20% when we want more people to be doing it”. Peter Roberts, the founder of Pure Gym, had previously called for a VAT cut based on statistics showing that only one in seven people in the UK has a gym membership.
The Treasury suggested that its hands were tied by European Union VAT rules. Currently under EU law it is stated that if a gym does not make a profit its members do not pay VAT on gym membership fees. Until the UK leaves the European Union, it is not possible to extend this to profit-making gyms.