- Scotland – Single site operators in Scotland are still awaiting news as to when jukeboxes and background music systems can be operated in pubs. Three weeks ago the First Minister banned all music saying it was a transmission risk for Covid-19 as people would talk loudly or shout over the music. She promised further research. A small working group is looking at additional risk mitigation measures and the results of that are expected ‘soon’. We have made our case to all our contacts in Scotland for the earliest possible decision as this is yet another hammer blow to operators who have been closed of nearly six months and were told machines could be on then had to switch them off. Not only that customers are deserting pubs as the atmosphere has been drained.
- SOS – In the rest of the UK reports from members are that business is generally positive considering the year we have had and how we expected customers to behave once re-opened. Whilst this will still be a disastrous year we could say that as a whole it won’t be as catastrophic as first thought. Nevertheless, there is going to still need to be support for the sector through the winter months, particularly for seasonal businesses. As you know our Save our Seaside campaign is up and running and thank you to all members who have written to MPs. We are getting positive responses and support. We are looking for support for a VAT/MGD rate of 5% and an extension of business rates relief into 2022. On the former any cut in MGD is not looking like a runner. However, we have a stronger argument on VAT and whilst a long shot, it is a compelling argument to extend the relief given to other parts of the tourist sector to us. We have seen a number of our MP supporters table Parliamentary Questions this week and James and I briefed the opposition DCMS team last week. They were very positive about our sector. On the pub side it is estimated about 85% of all machines are now on. Takes have been steadily increasing but are still well below where they should. The Eat Out to Help Out scheme has put additional pressure on space which has not been good news for pool tables, but with that coming to an end we may see a change in the market.
- KickStart – Members may have picked up last week that the Government has launched its KickStart Scheme which covers up to 25 hours of pay at the National Minimum Wage for taking on a young employee who has been on Universal Credit and is at risk of long-term unemployment. There a number of rules around the scheme which can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/kickstart-scheme
- Apprenticeships – Additional advice on apprenticeships has also been published which covers amongst other things an incentive for taking on new apprentices. Details can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-apprentices-employers-training-providers-end-point-assessment-organisations-and-external-quality-assurance-pro
- CJRS – Members are reminded that since 1st September that the Government has further reduced the contribution towards the pay of those employees still on furlough. For a very good guide on all things CJRS please click here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme-step-by-step-guide-for-employers
- Safer Gambling Week – Members are reminded that SGW is going ahead this year on 19-25th November 2020. Whilst principally supported by Division 3 we do encourage all members to think about what they can do to highlight the week within their businesses. Manufacturers or example have in the past given top boxes over to the SGW logo. We are looking to AGC members to as a minimum feature the week in window displays. Full details and access to resources can be found here https://safergamblinguk.org/sgw.
- Advertising Code – The sixth edition of the gambling industry Advertising Code was published this week. Whilst most members won’t be affected as we do very little advertising of the kind covered by the Code, there are new sections on paid for social media advertising that discuss how to age gate access to gambling content. A copy of the new Code will be uploaded to the bacta website shortly. It comes into force on 1st October.
- Party Conferences – the Party Conferences have been cancelled for 2020 due to Covid-19 but all the political parties are hosting some kind of virtual event. Members may be interested in attending the Conservative Party’s Virtual Business Day. At £850 it’s not cheap but there is an Observer option and one for Party members which looks like it is free.
- Cashless App – Finally I just wanted to congratulate the team at Game Payment Technology. The cashless app is now installed in 300 pub machines and rising, work is progressing nicely on the arcade version and all the back-end reconciliation and payments with our Tier 1 banking partners are seamless. Anyone wanting more details should contact Robert Gibb at bacta on Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always I would welcome any feedback or thoughts from members as we move into the Autumn. We will be holding our Division Committee meetings next week and National Council in October. We will also be looking to hold a round of Regional Meetings later in October. We are also now ramping up our work on on-line training, limit-setting, ethical game design and a range of other projects that were put on hold during lockdown.
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