The industry has welcomed the chancellor’s decision to include betting shops in its grant scheme but wants an extension on rates relief.
UK.- The Betting & Gaming Council (BGC) has welcomed an announcement from the British chancellor that non-essential retail businesses including betting shops will be eligible for cash grants of up to £6,000 per site.
The announcement was made ahead of the presentation of chancellor Rishi Sunak’s annual budget this Wednesday (March 3).
The budget will include a £5bn “restart” grant scheme designed to help the recovery of high-street businesses, including betting shops, which expect to reopen from April 12 under the government’s roadmap.
The funds will be distributed directly to businesses by local authorities starting in April.
Non-essential retail businesses will be eligible for cash grants of up to £6,000 per site to help them to resume trading. Hospitality businesses, which will reopen later, will be able to apply for grants of up to £18,000 per site.
The Betting and Gaming Council has welcomed the move but reiterated its call for an extension of business rates relief for another year.
A spokesperson said; “The BGC would warmly welcome any additional support for betting shops, be that business rates or grants, particularly giving the pressure independent betting shops are under.”
BGC chief executive Michael Dugher had written to the chancellor ahead of his budget presentation proposing a five-point plan to support the gaming sector and to “unlock the power of the high street and drive economic growth”.
Dugher wrote: “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.”
He also called for an assurance that funding for devolved governments would be made available to all business sectors.
While betting shops in England and Northern Ireland have benefited from business rates relief since April last year, the Scottish and Welsh governments excluded the gambling sector from receiving relief.
Dugher’s letter reads: “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 our members.
“This has sadly had a disproportionate impact on our smaller independent businesses, many of them family-run, which have faced making staff redundant and an uncertain future.”