UK betting shops and other non-essential businesses are eligible for direct cash grants of up to £6,000 per site, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced.
Non-Essential Businesses to Reopen in April
Betting shops, as well as all non-essential services, are eligible for direct cash payments of up to £6,000 per site, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced ahead of the UK’s national budget confirmation on Wednesday 3.
The British government has set up a £5 billion plan to revive shopping streets across the country. While non-essential shops can get up to £6,000, hospitality, leisure, and accommodation businesses are eligible for grants amounting to £16,000, as they face a longer lockdown period. The Betting & Gaming Council (BGC) once again requested an extension of the relief rates to at least one more year.
April 12 will mark the start of the reopening of non-essential venues as part of the second phase of the British authorities’ strategy, provided that the vaccination rate against Covid-19 continues to increase as hospitalizations decline.
BGC CEO Calls for Business Relief Rates to be Extended
BGC Chief Executive Officer Michael Dugher stated in his letter to the Chancellor that the gaming and betting industry contributes greatly to the country’s economy and that the BGC hopes the national budget will push the UK’s recovery forward “to return to growth and job creation.” In his own plan for recovery, Dugher has called for a one-year extension of business relief rates to relieve the pressure on gambling businesses.
“With premises shut for much of the past year, this would help protect jobs and remove a major financial pressure on businesses that have suffered a significant loss of income during the pandemic.”Michael Dugher, BGC Chief Executive Officer
The request was also sent to Scottish and Welsh authorities, and Dugher noted that “the UK Government’s backing for business stands in stark contrast to the refusal of the devolved administrations in Wales and Scotland to offer business rates relief to [BGC] members.” Independent or family-run venues have been facing redundancies and financial uncertainty, Dugher declared, and the lack of help from local governments has taken its toll.
The BGC also requested the 10pm curfew be lifted when casinos and hotels reopen on May 17, and that taxes and duties remain unchanged.
Horseracing Industry Faces a “Serious Financial Challenge”
2020 was a complicated year for the industry, as the coronavirus pandemic led to a £1.6 billion drop in gross gambling revenue and the government continued to review the 2005 Gambling Act. Therefore, the BGC has called for “stability and certainty” this year and pointed to the gambling and betting industry’s contribution to the economy, with £4.5 billion in taxes and a £7.7 billion yield. The industry currently employs about 100,000 workers and is “eager to play its part in the recovery,” the BGC said.
Also serving as the MP for Richmond in North Yorkshire, home to the Catterick Racecourse, the Chancellor was urged by the BGC to look at the “serious financial challenge” the horseracing industry faces. The BGC also declared that it is essential to ensure that “regulation of the betting and gaming sector did not undermine the essential support racing receives from betting“.