Covid-19 update

11th January 2021


Dear Member


Now we are beginning to get back into Government following the Christmas and New Year break, the latest twist and turns of the pandemic and the various government responses are becoming clearer (if not better).

You don’t need me to tell you that all UK Nations strategies are based upon getting the vaccine rolled out asap.  This is the key to unlocking the door to the lockdowns we are all now experiencing.  The key question is when can we see some of the restrictions lifted and areas to move back down the Tiers and Levels.  Reading the tea leaves right now it looks to me like Easter  (April 2nd) is a long shot.  I am getting the sense that hospitality and tourism will probably not get open until May.  We are pushing for Easter for obvious reasons but the public health emergency has taken a new turn and governments are absolutely focusing on that rather than the economic consequences of their decisions.  They believe existing  (and additional support) takes that issue off the table. We shall remind them it doesn’t and also reminding them that AGCs must be classed as non-essential retail when it comes to re-opening.

In terms of meetings, last week we spoke with the Chairman of the Lords Committee on Gambling Reform as well as the Treasury over our request for a 5% VAT and 5% MGD rate.  The issue had been considered further and the next step is to talk to relevant VAT officials if we can.

This week we are meeting with the Welsh Government (which remains cloth-eared to our request for an explanation as to why AGCs don’t merit support).  Interestingly, we met with a Conservative MS last week who was equally as bemused, and encouraged members to keep on writing to their MSs elsewhere in the country. 

We are also meeting this week with DCMS and I am meeting Stephen Morgan MP on Wednesday, following a meeting of the Scottish Tourism Recovery Group.

In terms of announcements:

England – the Chancellor today simply confirmed the additional grants for Retail Leisure and Hospitality and the extra discretionary grant funding announced last week (see last week’s Update).  We await details.

Scotland – today we did get some detail of what additional support is available: 

  • In addition to the grants businesses receive through the Strategic Business Framework Fund, eligible businesses will also get a one off grant of:
  • £25,000 for larger hospitality businesses on top of the 4-weekly £3,000
  • £6,000 for smaller hospitality businesses on top of the 4-weekly £2,000
  • £9,000 for larger retail and leisure businesses on top of the 4-weekly £3,000
  • £6,000 for smaller retail and leisure businesses on top of the 4-weekly £2,000

Whether you are large or small will depend on whether your rateable value is above or below the usual £51k threshold.

In most cases, eligible businesses that have already applied for the 4-weekly payment from the Strategic Framework Business Fund will get an automatic top-up.  For the majority, this top-up will be combined with the next tranche of payment for the Strategic Framework Business Fund due to go to businesses on 25 January.

Businesses that haven’t yet applied for either of these funds should submit an application as soon as possible through their local authority website. Applications are now open.

As always please stay safe and do not hesitate to call if you have any questions or feedback.

Can I also remind Division 3 operators that we really need your economic figures to feed into CEBR if you haven’t already supplied them.  Without that data we will be submitting to the Gambling Review with one arm behind our back.


Kind regards,