BGC demands reopening guarantees and no tax rises ahead of crucial budget 

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has joined wider UK industries in calling for the HM Treasury to extend business rates relief and help the economy emerge from lockdown. 

UK business currently waits for Chancellor Rishi Sunak to present his spring statement on Wednesday 3 March, when he will announce the Budget proposals for 2021, outlining the fiscal measures and policies to help the UK’s economic recovery from a further winter lockdown.

Publishing a letter sent to Chancellor Sunak by BGC chief executive Michael Dugher, the trade body has presented a ‘five-point plan’ supported by the betting and gaming sector –  ‘which is eager to play its part in the recovery’.

As a top priority, the BGC calls for the Treasury to extend ‘rate reliefs’ on UK retail, leisure and hospitality venues for an extended period, helping businesses that have been closed for the majority of the past 12 months.

Dugher underlined that the extension would ‘remove a major financial pressure’ on the most affected enterprises during the pandemic.

The BGC’s demand is extended to the governments of Wales and Scotland, which are urged to provide significant reliefs to leisure and hospitality venues.

The government has been urged to maintain its timetable with regards to easing business restrictions, and for England’s betting shops to be guaranteed a 12 April reopening alongside all non-essential retail stores.

The BGC underlined the gambling sector – ‘which supports over 100,000 jobs, contributes £4.5 billion in taxes and generates £7.7 billion for the economy’ – requires a ‘period of stability and certainty, as the trade body warns against an increase in industry taxes.

Dugher ends his statement by urging the HM Treasury to pay close attention to  gambling review developments, in which restrictive measures will have wider consequences on sports and racing finances should they be adopted.  

“By any measure, the betting and gaming industry is an important contributor to Britain’s economy,” Dugher’s statement read. “It is our hope that the forthcoming Budget will be a springboard to recovery as the country begins to emerge from the COVID-19, unlocking the potential of our high street businesses to return to growth and job creation.”

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