Casinos demand hospitality rescue package as Sunak’s measures fall short

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) believes that Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the HM Treasury must form an emergency rescue package to save thousands of jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector which are currently under threat due to the government’s new COVID-19 public restrictions.

The BGC made its statement following Chancellor Sunak’s address to the House of Commons, in which he confirmed that from 1 November the government will run a six month ‘Job Support Scheme’ to subsidise furloughed employees’ return to work.

The Treasury’s new scheme will see the government subsidise a third of wages for employees returning back to work on a part-time basis – with employee grants capped at £697 per month.

Business leaders have been critical of Sunak’s proposal, as the government contribution to wages will fall sharply compared with the furlough scheme launched earlier this year – which initially paid 80% of a monthly wage up to £2,500. Under the new scheme, the government’s contribution will drop to 22%.

The BGC stated that its members share the same concerns as all leisure and hospitality businesses following the introduction of a 10pm curfew across venues, which threatens a reported 14,000 jobs as a result of the enforced closures.

Earlier this week, leadership of UK casinos issued a letter to the government stating that due to 70% of their trade occurring past 10 pm, casinos would be uniquely affected by the shutdown.

Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, said: “Casinos have demonstrated that they are Covid-secure, and yet are being ordered to close their doors at 10pm. This is an illogical and disproportionate decision which puts thousands of jobs at risk.

“The Chancellor must implement an urgent economic package which enables casinos to stay open and protect jobs so that, when the pandemic is over, they can play their part in getting the British economy back on its feet.”

The BGC has maintained that the Treasury must further consider ‘other taxpayer-backed initiatives as a way of keeping the businesses viable and contributing to the Treasury as it tries to rebuild the British economy’.

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