16th February 2021
Scotland – Kate Forbes, Finance Secretary, this afternoon announced that rates relief for the retail leisure and hospitality sector will be extended for a further twelve months. This is welcome news for arcade members in Scotland and I hope English and Welsh Governments will take note. Premises costs are one of the key expenses for business and to have the certainty that cost is covered as we get the economy going again will help members significantly.
Scotland Chairman and I had earlier in the day been on an STA call with Kate Forbes where we made a plea to get tourism businesses open by Easter if at all possible and also if she would support a grant fund for suppliers. She said she was open to the latter (even though she had yet to respond to our letter on this point from two weeks ago) and asked her officials to discuss our ideas further. I will keep members posted on those discussions. We have another meeting with SG tomorrow and a meeting with the Conservative Economy Shadow on Friday.
The First Minister also announced today that she would provide details next Tuesday of the SGs plans for exiting lockdown. The next Review date of Scottish measures is on 2nd March.
Brexit – The Government has announced a new £20 million SME Brexit Support Fund to help small businesses adjust to new customs procedures, rules of origin, and VAT rules when trading with the EU. This fund offers up to £2,000 for businesses with up to 500 employees, and no more than £100 million annual turnover who trade with the EU.
The eligibility criteria are that the business must:
- be established in the UK
- have been established in the UK for at least 12 months before submitting the application, or currently hold Authorised Economic Operator status
- not have previously failed to meet its tax or customs obligations
- have no more than 500 employees
- have no more than £100 million turnover
- import or export goods between Great Britain and the EU, or moves goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Applications for the fund are not yet open but when they are they will be on this link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/grants-to-help-small-and-medium-sized-businesses-new-to-importing-or-exporting.
Wales – The Welsh Government seems to be ahead of England and Scotland in relaxing restrictions with schools already in phased opening and a report last week on the BBC that First Minister, Mark Drakeford, hinting at a heavily caveated Easter opening. Our promised meeting with Ken Skates on rates grants has morphed into a meeting with his officials and we still don’t have a date and we continue to engage on getting AGCs open as part of non-essential retail as we do in England and Scotland.
England – We continue to lobby on all our asks and met with the DCMS tourism team on Friday to engage their support. Our next meeting with the DCMS gambling team is tomorrow afternoon.
Bacta Webinars – Save the dates. Bacta has put together three webinars for members in March. On 4th March we will be discussing the implications of Brexit for the sector. As we saw with the now withdrawn imposition of tariffs on US origin games, our departure from the EU may affect our businesses in ways we may not have forseen. To discuss this we will be joined by Government representatives as well as Justin Burke from Sega and Quentin Stott from Reflex.
Our second webinar on 11th March will focus on the Gambling Review. Members will have an opportunity to hear first-hand the line the organisation is taking and to offer comments on our evidence document which we will circulate beforehand. President, James Miller and Vice-President, Greg Wood will take your questions.
Finally, on 18th March we will be hosting a seminar with the new Divisional Chairs to discuss the challenges of re-opening. With all the countries of the UK having by then set out their plans for exiting lockdown and getting life back to some kind of normal, this webinar will look at the challenges bacta members face in the months ahead as the economy gets going again.
Division Meetings – Bacta’s Division committees will be meeting on 24th (1 and 3) and 25th (2 and 4) of February. Members in the respective Division are welcome to attend Division meetings as observers. As these will be Zoom meetings, if you are interested in attending please email Theresa to register your place (firstname.lastname@example.org) – committee members will receive their invite directly.