BGC calls for continued flexibility from government as lockdown relaxed

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has urged Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak to ‘keep being flexible’ following the latest update to the Government’s COVID-19 furlough scheme.

Welcoming Sunak’s extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the standards body acknowledged that a number of its members ‘will be forced to operate at a reduced capacity for the foreseeable future’.

Sunak has already confirmed that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue until October, which is expected to support the 64,000 people who work in the retail betting and gaming industry.

In May, Sunak revealed 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. 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%.

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher urged ministers to continue to show flexibility in their approach to the crisis, emphasising that companies within the hospitality and leisure sector may require further assistance in the future.

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 to 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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