Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme

The Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme (AIPS) enables pupils at Local Authority* schools to purchase instruments without paying VAT (Value Added Tax).

This procedure has the approval of HM Revenue and Customs. In order to comply with their regulations, the following must apply:

  • Students must be in full time education at a Local Authority school (not an Academy or Independent school)
  • Students must receive regular (weekly) tuition at the school as part of their curriculum, or receive private tuition in support of a curricular activity such as GCSE music
  • The instrument must be
    • appropriate for the pupil’s need
    • portable – drum kits and pianos are excluded
    • delivered to the school and be passed to the pupil in a designated teaching room. The instrument cannot be delivered to a home address
    • charged to the parents at or below cost, excluding VAT
    • new, secondhand instruments or ex-hire instruments cannot be bought VAT free.

If you wish to purchase an instrument under this scheme:

  • Decide on the make and model of the instrument. It’s a good idea to consult either the music tutor or your local music shop for advice
  • Decide on the retailer you wish to purchase from. You are not restricted to local music shops and many major UK retailers’ catalogues are available online. Be aware that while most prices will include VAT, some will quote excluding VAT
  • Contact the retailer to check availability and confirm the amount payable as this may differ from the published price. Please check the costs for postage and packing.

Once you have all the above information you can download an application form or contact Essex Music Service with the following:

  • Your name, address, child’s name and tuition details
  • The instrument make and model, accessories and the ex-VAT price
  • The retailer’s name and address
  • Payment of the ex-VAT price including any postage and packing, plus our admin charge (currently £10 per transaction).
    Your school will also be able to purchase the instrument under the AIPS.

Once you have submitted the application and payment, Essex Music Service will arrange the payment for your chosen instrument from your specified retailer. The instrument will then be delivered to your child’s school.

Download more information. Email Jeremy Gush with further questions.

* Essex Music Service only process applications for students at LA maintained school and music schools, not Academies. If your child is at an Academy, please approach your school directly, as they will have their own VAT registration.

Take it away provides interest-free loans to purchase musical instruments, equipment, software and tuition

It was launched in 2007 by Creative United and is available through 140 retailers in England and Northern Ireland.

Customers can borrow between £100 and £5,000 interest-free, which is paid back in equal instalments over 9 or 18 months, depending on the amount.  As a passion for music-making can develop at any time of life, the loans can support musicians of every age in England and Northern Ireland – with subsidised options tailored to children and young adults in England.

Instrumental in your progression

Lisa Judge took advantage of the scheme last year. She had already purchased a tuba and a double bass for her son before she heard about Take it away.

Once his love for music developed, he became involved in both school and county orchestras. His sights were set on playing a third instrument – the harp. I carried out some internet research and found that rather than paying for the item all at once we could pay over 9 months. This was such a simple transaction to do, I spoke to the harp shop who forwarded me a form by email. I completed the form and within a short time my request was approved, and the harp was ours!

With her son’s enthusiasm for music showing no signs of dimming, Lisa intends to take advantage of the scheme again:

I’m not sure which instrument will be heading in our direction next, but I will be using the scheme to help spread the cost. If I had found it earlier, I would have definitely used it to purchase the tuba!

Take it away has helped over 90,000 customers since 2007 and in March 2019 was awarded the Sir Charles Groves Prize by Making Music for outstanding contribution to music.

Find out more about Take it away.