BGC welcomes Chancellor’s ‘lifeline’ via extended support measures

The Betting and Gaming Council has welcomed the Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s decision to extend the furlough scheme until September, alongside that of business rate relief and the introduction of grants to support hard pressed high street businesses and hospitality venues.

Lauding the decision, the BGC noted that the extension will help support 44,000 people who work in retail betting shops and land-based casinos, which have been closed since the start of the year and therefore unable to generate any revenue. 

Furthermore, the group also highlighted that even with partial relaxation of restrictions – not expected until April 12 at the earliest for betting shops and May 17 for casinos – many retail, leisure and hospitality businesses would have struggled without additional longer-term support from the government. 

Michael Dugher, BGC chief executive, said: “The extension of the furlough scheme and new grants for businesses are strongly welcomed by the tens of thousands of people who work in high street betting and land-based casinos. Without the continued support from the Chancellor, many of these businesses would have struggled to survive.

“We have already seen over 5,000 jobs lost and 375 businesses closed since the start of last year.

“The decision to extend the business rates relief will be welcomed by many of our member companies who have not been able to open properly for nearly a year now.

“Our industry will continue to play it’s part in the national effort to combat COVID, supporting our local communities, and we look forward to contributing to the economic recovery.”

The BGC pressed the government to safely reopen businesses as quickly as possible, data permitting. It also emphasised that the added flexibility provided by extending furlough to September will help businesses get back up and running, whilst retaining control over staffing, which is said to be the biggest cost for many.

Additionally, it also was confirmed in the Chancellor’s Budget announcement that the government will raise the gross gaming yield bandings for gaming duty in line with inflation.

Meanwhile, Sunak proposed that tax on corporate profits would be increased from a 19 per cent to 25 per cent threshold by April 2023. However, the Treasury’s corporate tax rates would be kept at 19 per cent for companies with profits below £50,000 – helping an estimated 1.5m SMEs