7th November 2020
The lobbying continues across the three nations of Britain and I would like to thank members for the letters they have written and continue to write; they really are of enormous value in keeping us in front of decision makers. I was on two calls with MPs today who both referenced letters from members in their constituencies, and we are seeing MPs increasingly prepared to ask Parliamentary Questions on our behalf.
- We continue to press for the VAT and MGD rates to be cut to 5% as well as for rates relief next year. Moreover, we are insisting that this has to be across the supply chain. More pressingly the removal of AGCs and Pubs from tier 3 restrictions and the removal of the substantial meal requirement for Tier 2 pubs would have an immediate and beneficial effect without increasing the risk of spreading the virus.
- Please keep writing to your MPs on these points, I know they are sympathetic. The first review of what areas are to be in what Tier is for December 16th. I fully expect there to be some movement following a lot of lobbying by MPs in those areas with low infection rates. There have also been promising falls in some of the broader areas in Tier 3. The review of the restrictions themselves will be revealed for December 30th. This is when we will hear on whether AGCs can get open in Tier 3 and whether there will be changes to the pub restrictions.
- Version 4.9 of bacta’s coronavirus guidance is now on the bacta website incorporating an updated description of national guidance and emphasising the obligation to refuse entry to people who will not abide by the rules.
- It was confirmed today that the current Level 4 areas (effectively in full lockdown) will be dropped to a new level next week. It was not clear what that would be and this will be confirmed next week. We have written again to the Scottish Government to make the point that AGCs should be allowed to open in level 3 areas. We also need the SG to get real about the opening of pubs – it is not a transmission risk to have properly managed pubs open.
- Wales entered its third lockdown on Friday, which will, it seems, last until after Christmas although the WG has only said it is of indefinite length and will be reviewed regularly. Arcades have to close, pubs must do so from 6.00 p.m and in any case not serve alcohol. I have lost count of the number of times we have requested a meeting with the WG to ask simply why they will not provide support to our AGC members. Why is a job in an AGC less valuable than a job in any other retail outlet? You will not be surprised to hear that no meeting has yet been organised with Ministers or relevant officials.
A number of members have been asking whether the restrictions across Britain will be loosened for the five days of Christmas. The answer is yes but only for family groups/bubbles. There is no change to the Tiering, Levelling or Lockdown provisions for businesses.
The much anticipated Gambling Review will be launched tomorrow. DCMS will be handling the process and the Call for Evidence will go out tomorrow. DCMS Minister, Nigel Huddleston, will be making a statement in the House of Commons tomorrow lunchtime.
Whilst the lion’s share of the Review will be focused on the on-line sector, bacta has been clear that the process of review must be genuinely evidence-led. On that basis, bacta has a strong case to make for legitimate, timely and proportionate changes to the outdated parts of the current Gambling Act to modernise the legislation under which we operate. There will however be some things that will tighten the regulatory regime under which we operate and we need to ensure that in those cases they are not burdensome but proportionate to our sector’s location at the soft end of the gambling spectrum.