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‘Keep Being Flexible’

Betting and Gaming Council urges Chancellor to ‘Keep Being Flexible’ to help firms emerge from Covid lockdown

Standards body the Betting and Gaming Council has called on Rishi Sunak to show continued flexibility after he provided the latest update on the Government’s covid furlough scheme.

The BGC, which represents the UK’s regulated betting and gaming industry, including companies owning casinos and bingo halls, welcomed the Chancellor’s pledge to maintain support for firms affected by the pandemic as the lockdown eases.

Mr Sunak has already confirmed that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue until October – a move that will help to support the 64,000 people who work in the retail betting and gaming industry.

Since 20 March, all betting shops, bingo halls and casinos have been closed as part of the national effort to slow the spread of the virus. Betting shops are due to begin reopening under Government plans in June, along with other ‘non-essential retail’

The BGC strongly welcomed the Chancellor’s swift and unprecedented package of employment support last March, in response to the threat posed to the hospitality and leisure industry.

Mr Sunak announced earlier this month that the current furlough scheme, which sees the Government pay 80 per cent of wages up to £2,500 a month, would run until the end of July.

He has now confirmed that in August, employers will have to pay their employees’ National Insurance and pension contributions.

In September, employers will need to pay 10% of their furloughed staff’s wages, with the Government continuing to pay the other 70%.

That will rise to 20% in October, with the Treasury contribution falling to 60%.
The BGC welcomed the Government’s continued support for businesses affected by the coronavirus.

In particular, it will enable bingo halls and casinos to get back up and running whilst retaining control over their biggest cost, which is staffing.

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher urged ministers to continue to show as much flexibility as possible in their approach to the crisis, arguing that we may need further help after that when it comes to the hospitality and leisure sector.

He said: “Any help for businesses from the Government at this time of global crisis is of course welcome, and we thank the Chancellor for providing more clarity on how the furlough scheme will operate until the end of October.

“Even though the lockdown is easing, many of our member companies – and in particular in casinos and bingo halls – will be forced to operate at a reduced capacity for the foreseeable future because of the need to maintain strict social distancing.

“Given the significant contribution the hospitality and leisure sector makes to the UK economy, we would urge Mr Sunak keep being flexible and acknowledge that it will continue to need support from the Government as the country emerges from the pandemic.

“We have had super engagement with the Government up until now, and we look forward to that continuing so we can ensure the betting and gaming industry can play its full part in getting the UK back on its feet.”

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