Covid-19 update

23rd February 2021


Dear Member


England – Following yesterday’s news on re-opening we have spent the day in furious lobbying efforts to get AGCs open with all other retail on the 12th April.  We wrote to the PM last night and followed that up with a letter to DCMS Secretary, Oliver Dowden.  In addition, all our MP contacts are about to get a letter asking them to pressure Number 10 to even at the eleventh hour to do the right thing.  I need your help and would once again ask all AGC operators to write to their MPs as a matter of urgency along the lines outlined below.  It really is important. 

We are also setting up an on-line petition to see if we can get to at least 10,000 signatures to force an official government response to the fact that their supposedly evidence-led approach is clearly not being followed.  We have also met with lawyers today to explore potential legal challenges to the Government.  Their discriminatory treatment of bookmakers and AGCs is patently anti-competitive.

We are also continuing to make the point that our FEC members are seasonal businesses and, when we do open on 17th May, will have missed a further three bank holidays.  We need Government to extend the 5% VAT rate to amusement machines and can I ask Division 1 members to write to your MPs as suggested below urgently.  We want a bit of last minute pressure on the Chancellor before the budget next week.

Likewise could our Division 2 and 4 members write to their MPs along the lines suggested to make the case in advance of the budget that rates relief and other support should be extended to the hospitality supply chain.

Scotland – First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, today outlined Scotland’s plans for easing restrictions north of the border.  Whilst there are a lot of words in the plan, it is short on relevant detail.  For business the key date is 26th April.  From then the Government plans to move the whole country back to its levelling system and it is then we will begin to see meaningful progression back down through the levels depending on the vaccination and infection rates.  We will learn more in early March.  Of note was the statement that there would be some changes to the content of the levels. We continue to make the case that in Level 3, AGCs should be allowed to open.  We met with Scottish Conservative Economy lead, Maurice Golden on Monday and he agreed to take a number of our lobbying asks to the SG.

It was also interesting to note that  when a local authority area transitions from Level 4, eligible businesses will continue to get the Strategic Framework Business Fund closure payment of up to £3,000 for the first four-week period after they are able to re-open.

Wales – as in England and Scotland we met today with WG officials to again explain the need for AGCs to open in Wales as non-essential retail. The case has been put up to Cabinet for a decision.  Our promised meeting with Ken Skates has not happened nor the meeting he subsequently promised with senior officials.  We also held a meeting today with Liz Saville Roberts, MP of Plaid Cymru.  It was a productive meeting and again she understood our arguments and promised to do what she could to get the message across to both the Government at Westminster and in Cardiff.




Dear XX

I have described before in previous correspondence the terrible impact of the coronavirus pandemic and associated business restrictions has had on my business in [insert location]   By way of example….[insert impact on business, revenue job losses etc].

This week’s announcement in [insert country] has further delayed any prospect of my being able to make any money this season.  We will lose Easter again.  It is unsustainable.  Of course public safety has to be front and centre of the government’s thinking but the wider impact this delay in re-opening is having cannot be ignored. We have to get the economy going again both for business and health reasons.  Losing businesses because of a delay in re-opening is the worst of both worlds.

I and my sector need a little extra support from the Government to ensure we survive.  Can I ask you to impress upon the Chancellor the importance in next week’s budget of:

  • Extending the 5% rate of VAT for tourism business to my tourism business by applying the 5% rate to amusement machines
  • Extending the rate relief at least until we can get back on our feet.
  • Likewise ensuring the furlough scheme is not withdrawn suddenly or too quickly.

Many thanks in advance and I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely



Dear XX

I have described before in previous correspondence the terrible impact of the coronavirus pandemic and associated business restrictions has had on my business in [insert location]   By way of example….[insert impact on business, revenue job losses etc].

Unlike other businesses in the hospitality sector I have received no support other than the furlough scheme despite being just as badly affected as the customer facing ends of the chain.  My business cannot even begin to consider reopening until May 17th when my customers can again open their doors.  I will have had essentially no income for over a year.

The position is unsustainable.  As you can see I have already lost £ and have or will make X number of my staff redundant.  We have to persuade the Government that covid support measures currently granted to the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality sector that I supply, are made available across the supply chain. 

We have been told this cannot be done because it is too difficult to describe my sector.  This is not correct.   Nearly all suppliers in the sector will have a licence from the Gambling Commission.  This eligibility criteria  is sufficient to ensure any help gets to companies that really need it.

As I have said before, if supply chains are not helped, they either will not be there when the economy gets going again, or if they do survive, will they be unable to support their customers in the way suppliers would normally do with credit, logistics and other customer support.  It is short-sighted in the extreme not to husband supply chains through to the re-opening of the economy.

I would be grateful if you could again make these points to the Chancellor in advance of the budget next week, in particular extending rates relief across the amusement machine supply chain both for the current financial year and the next.  This would be a small but significant help for my business.

Many thanks.

Yours sincerely



Dear X

As our local MP, I am writing again to express my concern about the Prime Minister’s decision to single out High Street Adult Gaming Centres (AGCs) as the only business venue on the High Street that must remain closed after 12th April. We need your support to help save a multi-million pound sector and 5,500 jobs on the line including my own.

The Government’s own guidance for the retail sector states that “Shops and branches include all retail stores, including betting shops and high street gambling arcades.”   I have a simple question: how can the Government justify AGCs remaining closed when all other retail venues, not least Licensed Betting Offices (LBOs) that operate in direct competition to AGCs be open, as they will be from April 12th?  How are nail bars allowed to open and AGCs not? Customers are indoors in close contact for far longer that they would ever be in an AGC.

My High Street arcade is Covid-secure, we have very few customers on the premises at any one-time, average dwell time is around 15 minutes and customers tend to be fairly stationary in-venue. This is in contrast to a number of businesses that will be open from the 12th April, such as supermarkets, nail bars and hairdressers, where dwell time is much longer than 15 minutes. AGCs are shops, pay rates as shops and are told to follow the Government’s Shops and Branches Guidance.

AGC operators are desperate to play their part in restoring the economy to health. AGCs are an important part of the High Street, bringing amenity, employment, and economic activity to many towns up and down the country including my own in your constituency. Getting me open will save the Exchequer the cost of furlough and allow me to again pay tax.

As our local MP can I ask you to help by:

  • Sending a letter to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for DCMS.
  • Sending a letter to the Minister for Tourism, Nigel Huddleston asking for an urgent meeting. 
  • Tabling a few Parliamentary Questions on this topic.
  • Submitting a question for DCMS oral questions.
  • Tweeting on this important topic.

With your support I hope we can persuade the government to reconsider this decision which is unnecessarily putting a multi-million pound sector and 5,500 jobs on the line.

Yours sincerely


Kind regards