Bacta highlight how reforms will help membership to play a key role in economic recovery

Ahead of the 2024 spring Budget (6th March) which is likely to be the last major fiscal event before the next general election, Bacta has outlined a programme of regulatory reforms and initiatives that it has presented to the Treasury and which it argues will enable member organisations to make a full and active contribution to a hospitality sector led economic recovery. 

The programme includes an overhaul of business rates to support high street businesses, VAT recovery for gambling machine operators, a reduction in MGD rates for Category C machines and a replacement for the Super Deduction to include machines purchased for re-hire.

Confirming Bacta’s engagement with the Treasury National President John Bollom said: “While government support for the High Street has been welcome it is unfair to have excluded our sector from the support afforded to other hospitality, retail, and other non-gambling leisure industries. We have argued that any continued support measures should also include our sector. 

“In addition, the current business rate regime unfairly burdens land-based businesses while advantaging online competitors. High business rates are frequently cited as representing a significant barrier to sustaining profitable businesses and represent a disincentive for members to continue their investment in high street operations and with that the creation of local jobs. A more frequent rate revaluation would partially assist.”

In terms of specific industry-based taxes John Bollom referenced the 2013 introduction of Machines Games Duty (MGD) as a replacement for Amusement Machine License Duty which resulted in a considerable additional cost burden for Bacta members. He said: “MGD was accompanied by the removal of a VAT charge on the cash box and operators were also consequently removed from the ability to reclaim input tax. 

“It was stated at the time that this would be a cost-neutral measure but that’s not been the case with operators finding that their contribution to the Government in MGD and irrecoverable VAT has far exceeded what was paid before 2013. For our MGD-paying members, a simple and effective way of easing this burden would be to allow them to reclaim VAT.”

Bacta has also called for a new 10 percent MGD rate for Category C games as a way of differentiating from higher stake B3 machines and supporting the pub and bingo sectors which receive a vital revenue stream from their lower stake Cat C products.

Underlining the government’s role in encouraging businesses to invest over the long-term the trade association has called for the replacement of the Super Deduction to include machines purchased for re-hire. John Bollom noted: “Introduced during the pandemic, the Super Deduction came as welcome news for companies that rely heavily on capital expenditure. While there were gaps left in the scheme which affected Bacta members, the Super Deduction provided a much-needed boost for business investment. 

“We would like to see the Government adopt a similar scheme which encourages businesses to invest for the long term. Following the Autumn Statement, Government promised to set up a group to look into this. This was welcome and further action should be progressed.”