Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme (AIPS)

How it works  What next?  Common Questions  The Small Print

Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme Features

  • Buy a musical instrument for your child WITHOUT paying VAT!

  • You can save potentially hundreds of pounds on a new instrument!

  • Available throughout England and Wales

  • Now available for children at Academies

  • The scheme is run with the full approval of H.M. Customs & Excise

There is a scheme called the Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme which allows students* to buy instruments without having to pay United Kingdom V.A.T. (20%). This means that when buying an instrument for £1500 you could save over £220 on the purchase price.

How it works

1. Having chosen the instrument you wish to buy from our large range and with the benefit of expert advice, you can ask your child’s LEA (Local Education Authority), school (including Academies) or Music Centre to order it on your behalf.

2. The school, Academy or Music Centre will then issue an official order to Howarth and we will dispatch the instrument to your child’s school or Music Centre, from where you can collect it.

3. Payment will be made by you directly to the school, Academy or Music Centre. The LEA or school must sell the instrument to the student at or below cost, excluding VAT, though they may have an administration charge.


Some LEAs issue a form that must be used when the order is placed to qualify for the scheme. These forms can be requested from the school or Music Centre. Other LEAs do not produce a dedicated form and the school/Music Centre can simply issue its own official order to us stating the instrument you require. You can you can start the process by downloading our ready-made application form to fill in and give to your school or LEA.

For a 'Guide for Parents & Schools' in PDF format, please click here


Academies: Click here for further information on the new rules that allow children at Academies to use the AIPS scheme to purchase instruments.


Independent Schools: Click here for clarification on the rules about eligibility, and why AIPS is not available to children at Independent schools to purchase instruments.


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What next?

  • Call or visit us... either at our London showrooms at 31-35 Chiltern Street, or at our West Sussex showroom, 19 Buckingham Road, Worthing. We can then help you choose the right instrument for your child.
  • Ready to purchase? If you know what instrument you want to purchase, you can start the process by downloading our ready-made application form to fill in and give to your school or LEA.
  • Any Questions? If you have any questions about the AIPS scheme, contact us by e-mail, or phone and we will be pleased to help you.

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Common Questions

Guarantee for instruments bought through AIPS

Although the instrument is purchased by the School/Music Centre, we retain all the purchase and serial number details in the unlikely event you need guarantee work undertaking.

Insurance of your new instrument

We strongly recommend you arrange suitable insurance cover against loss and damage to your new instrument. We are happy to supply information regarding comprehensive annual insurance though Allianz, who offer a policy designed to meet the particular requirements of musicians.


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*The Small Print

Although open only to LEAs and LEA maintained schools, and Academies, AIPS itself is a purely voluntary scheme which different local authorities are free to operate in different ways. We recommend you discuss purchasing an instrument through AIPS with the school, Academy, Music Service or LEA in advance.


To comply with H.M. Customs & Excise regulations the following requirements must be met:

  • The student must be in full time education at an LEA school or Academy and/or receiving music tuition at an LEA funded Music Centre.
  • The instrument must be appropriate for the student’s needs and must be portable.
  • The sale transaction must take place on educational premises.
  • For students who receive regular tuition from the LEA’s music service there is not usually a requirement for him/her to be a pupil at an LEA school. This may enable pupils at independent schools who receive tuition through a County Music Service to take advantage of musical instrument purchase under AIPS.
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