The Horseracing Betting Levy Board (HBLB) and the Racing Foundation have agreed to contribute £22 million to support British racing during the coronavirus pandemic.
With no date set for racing to restart and a large number of racing employees either out of work or put on furlough, the support package aims to provide “timely funds where they are most needed.”
There will be a £13.5m cash sum available to racecourses and up to £8m for the sport’s participants, broken down into the following areas:
Advance payment to racecourses of grants for raceday services
HBLB currently pays £12,571 to each racecourse for most fixtures, which goes towards costs incurred for regulation and integrity services, the majority of which is accounted for by the costs of the BHA. To assist racecourses with cash flow, the Board has agreed to provide early up to eight of these raceday services grants (RSGs) to each racecourse. These will represent each racecourse’s last eight RSGs due in 2020 (i.e. for its last eight fixtures of the year). The Board will pay four now, which is an advance of £3m, with these payments expected to be made before the end of April. It is anticipated that the next four will be paid in the near future once the expected levy yield for the year ended March 31, 2020 has become sufficiently clear. The eight grants to each racecourse will represent a £6m advance of payments by HBLB.
Loans of up to £200,000 per racecourse
A joint fund of £7.5m will be made available to all racecourses with each contributing £3.75m and with each party then recouping its monies as the four-year loans are repaid (starting in 2021). HBLB’s own current policy is to offer up to £200,000 without a racecourse going through independent due diligence and applications on this basis will be invited in the next week. A cap on the amount available to racecourse groups will apply.
The Racing Foundation, in conjunction with other funders including the John Pearce Foundation, has focused on supporting the ability of racing’s charities and member organisations to provide the support required to reduce the hardship being felt across the sport. Based on their assessment of need there will be up to £8m available for human and equine hardship issues as follows:
Support for Racing Welfare’s hardship grants of up to £750k
Racing Welfare continues to operate its established hardship grant programme to support staff from across racing facing difficulties and hardship. The numbers of people contacting the charity has increased dramatically in the last few weeks and this funding will allow for the system to continue operating providing for immediate cash support to meet the needs that arise.
The establishment of a Racing Relief Fund of up to £2.5m
The establishment of this fund, co-ordinated by the ROA, is designed to meet the welfare needs of horses who may be at risk if owners become unable to support them. The industry’s charity, Retraining of Racehorses, will work alongside others including key members of the Horse Welfare Board to ensure that the welfare needs of horses are given the priority that would be expected by those within and outside the industry.
Jockeys support and hardship scheme up to £900k
Self-employed jockeys, valets and agents unable to earn a wage with the cancellation of racing will be afforded the levels of support available to employed staff across the industry who have been furloughed under the government scheme. Many jockeys are unable to claim the self-employed support payments introduced and this provides them with immediate relief. This scheme will be co-ordinated by the PJA who will liaise directly with their members on its application.
Filling the furlough and Self Employed Income Support Scheme gap up to £2.79m
The cash-flow implications being faced across the industry by businesses who have furloughed staff, paid them and now await reimbursement and the self-employed who are eligible for SEISS support but will have to wait until June, are met through this scheme. The scheme will assist trainers and jockeys who are struggling with cash-flow and will be delivered via the NTF and PJA and the respective bodies will inform their members about how they access the scheme.
Racing Industry Accident Benefit Scheme up to £104k
The contributions payable under the industry accident benefit scheme (RIABS) will be met centrally for all those employees who have been furloughed under the government scheme supporting the welfare of staff, assisting employers and maintaining the capacity of the scheme itself.
Support for British racing’s charities up to £900k
Racing is reliant on the activities of numerous charities both small and large. They deliver £24m of support to the sport every year and they face immediate loss of income as events are cancelled and discretionary donations reduce. This sum is designed to keep those charities with the most difficulties solvent and allow for a support package to assist them with recovery as the sport and economy returns to normality.
Paul Darling, Levy Board Chairman, said: “This is a substantial undertaking by the Levy Board in conjunction with the Racing Foundation. The Board has agreed to make available significant sums to racecourses through a combination of measures that will meet the demand for cash in the short-term.
“Importantly, this approach preserves further levy funds that we know will be needed for prize-money when racing resumes. It is certain that the Levy Board will have a major role at that stage and beyond. Negotiating the many challenges ahead of us all will require exceptional co-operation between every sector. Those challenges can only be met if British racing and the betting industry work in partnership and the Levy Board will play a full and active part in ensuring that this happens.”