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In July 2012, legislation was passed which allows universities and higher education (HE) colleges to form CSGs that can provide services to the HE sector free of VAT. CSGs can provide services more cost-effectively than individual HE institutions, and the exemption from VAT now means that substantial savings can be made. 

The new rules on VAT exemptions for CSGs were introduced in the 2012 Finance Act, following lobbying by the HE and charity sectors. This legislation is complex, so HEFCE has been working with the British Universities Finance Directors Group and Universities UK to develop guidance to help clarify the rules. 

The guidance sets the context of the cost sharing exemption for HE. It will help existing providers of services to understand the issues which must be addressed to take advantage of the exemption, while identifying areas of service which are not liable to VAT and therefore do not need to be delivered through CSGs. It also examines areas which are being clarified by the experience of groups currently establishing CSGs. 

The guidance is web-based and will be updated as further information becomes available. Case studies will be added in the autumn.