UK racing secures £22m hardship fund

A £22 million ‘hardship fund’ has been launched by The Horserace Betting Levy Board (Levy Board) and the Racing Foundation supporting horseracing stakeholders impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

The newly reformed Levy Board acts as a non-departmental public body, in charge of collecting and organising the finances of  UK racing through betting taxes, fundraising and further on-course activities.

Its counterpart the Racing Foundation serves as the agency in charge of managing grants attributed to vital racing disciplines such as training, animal welfare, heritage maintenance and scientific research.

This weekend, the organisations launched its hardship fund, with the ‘objective of providing timely funds where they are most needed’.

Acting in a time of crisis, the Levy Board and Racing Foundation has chosen to allocate vital funds to the critical racecourse, equine and workforce areas maintaining the lifeblood of UK racing.

Supporting racecourses, the Levy Board will sanction advance payments of raceday grants at £12,500 per fixture, in which racecourse owners will be allowed to claim up to eight 2020 fixtures from the fund.

The Levy Board has allocated £7.5 million to be made available to racecourse owners, who will be able to secure emergency loans of £200,000 each. The loans carry a four-year repayment structure starting in 2021, with the Levy Board detailing that a cap on ‘racecourse groups’ will apply.

Paul Darling – Levy Board

Paul Darling, Chairman of the Levy Board said: “The Board has agreed to make available significant sums to racecourses through a combination of measures that will meet the demand for cash in the short-term. Importantly, this approach preserves further Levy funds that we know will be needed for prize money when racing resumes. It is certain that the Levy Board will have a major role at that stage and beyond. Negotiating the many challenges ahead of us all will require exceptional co-operation between every sector. Those challenges can only be met if British racing and the betting industry work in partnership and the Levy Board will play a full and active part in ensuring that this happens.”

Meanwhile, the Racing Foundation has established an £8 million ‘emergency grant programme’ supporting UK racing’s equine and welfare employees.

Racing welfare stakeholders will have access to a £750,000 hardship grant programme, helping maintain equine support structures and resources in place.

Working with the Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) the Racing Foundation has established a £2.5 million ‘welfare relief fund’, covering racehorse owners’ costs and resources following the postponement of the racing season.

Noting that many ‘self-employed ’jockeys and trainers will have difficulties claiming on the government’s SEISS programme, the Racing Foundation has will launch a £900,000 ‘jockey hardship programme’.

Ian Barlow – Racing Foundation

Further workforce initiatives, will see the Racing Foundation match the UK government’s employee support programme, with additional funds of £2.8 million, with grants made available through the National Trainers Association  (NTA) and Professional Jockeys Association (PJA).

Ian Barlow, Chairman of the Racing Foundation, commented: “The funding requests we have received are varied and we want to take an approach which can help alleviate the immediate hardship being felt by the sport’s people, horses, businesses and charities. Through close and continued collaboration both organisations will seek to meet the immediate hardship needs presented to us and ensure necessary funds are in place to commence racing and support the sport in the months ahead.”

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