Budget 2021 response – part 3

Budget 2021 response - Admiral AGC
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The global giant

Open earlier and clarify state aid limits, otherwise our high streets will be damaged not protected


Novomatic UK CEO Zane Mersich argues that the industry continues to be forgotten when it comes to the decision making process and that it’s imperative the operator’s venues are allowed to open with the rest of the high street. Waiting until May 17 will mean more job losses and more lost income fort he AGC sector.


Zane Mersich Novomatic UK
Zane Mersich CEO Novomatic UK Ltd

We are incredibly grateful for the furlough extension and business rates relief, but the announcement on additional grants is of no use to multi venue businesses such as ours, unless government immediately clarifies the position on state aid limits. It’s not the first time we’ve been forgotten. Throughout this entire crisis, adult gaming centres up and down the country have been forced to close first, open last and make do with little to no sector specific support for a sector without income.

Just last week, the Government announced that you’ll be able to get a haircut, get your nails done, place a bet and play machines in a bookmakers before you’re able to visit our safe, Covid-secure venues on the high street to spend a few minutes using our products.

The whole purpose of the grants is to cover fixed costs that are directly proportionate to the scale of the business. Given that we have 240 venues, our fixed rental, staff and infrastructure costs are enormous – even while we are forced to remain shut. Receiving the announced grant in full for each location is essential and fair.

State aid limits were updated in the EU in February to €10 million across a business, but we still await urgent government confirmation that those limits also apply in the UK. Without that vital clarity the very high street businesses the grants are meant to be help will be seriously disadvantaged – and will be in a much worse position that we would have been without Brexit.

Ultimately we need to reopen with the rest of the high street. Throughout this entire crisis, adult gaming centres up and down the country have been forced to close first, open last and make do with no sector specific support – for businesses without income.

With no sector specific financial support, and a long wait until the 17th May, thousands of jobs across our sector are in grave peril. If we’re forced to wait until the end of May, the support schemes will weaken and our costs will escalate rapidly, just as we’re beginning to start the slow journey to recovery, making the clarification on state aid rules all the more critical.


The machines supplier

The chancellor continues ignore the very same businesses he’s relying on to drive manufacturing in the recovery


The budget is good for everybody else except for the manufacturers and distributors in the supply chain.


John Stergides ElectrocoinOur customers are currently closed but they are getting help like rates relief from the government, however for us, it’s zero, and they didn’t even bother to recognise that we are part of the hospitality and leisure industry.

Even our trade association is being waved away by the government each time it raises the issue of the problems facing distributors and manufacturers. It’s illogical that the manufacturing drive that the chancellor wants to create is to be delivered by the very companies he is totally ignoring.

We are ready, as we remained open with a limited staff to keep our support for the industry going and I’m glad to let you know that we have been moving a few products every week to which helps justify us being open.

Some operators want to be 100 percent ready for trading and avoid the last-minute rush, thus they are taking full advantage of the time to prepare before the opening. We have been supplying our hugely successful Skill Cut Winner, Hit & Smash and pinballs which appears to be making a comeback.

Thank you to these operators who continue to support us during these difficult times to keep our industry going.


The bingo operator

“…a budget that will help us on the road to recovery”


Mark Jepp, MD of Majestic Bingo, believes Rishi Sunak’s budget will keep things moving in the short term, but he has a concern over the rent moratorium. If it continues then that will be a relief to many small businesses.


Mark Jepp Majestic Bingo
Mark Jepp Managing Director, Majestic Bingo

Overall, the budget looks good in the short-term and provides some much-needed comfort, however, some long-term support measures will also be needed.

The CJRS continues to provide support well beyond the date we would expect to be open. One thing that seems to be omitted is any mention of a rent moratorium – this currently runs out at the end of March when landlords theoretically can start to serve notice again on tenants for non-payment of rent. Realistically, everyone expects it to continue and it had been expected to be announced today.

If it is not extended then technically it represents a risk to a small number of Majestic clubs but most are freehold properties.

The budget will help us on the road to recovery as we work hard to repair the very serious damage that the lockdown has caused especially in respect to the bingo demographic and the habitual nature of playing patterns which have been so materially disrupted.


Night time sector

Nightlife businesses in danger of falling at the last hurdle


We welcome the extension of VAT and rates relief, and that more money is going to hospitality and the Culture Recovery Fund (CRF).


But both of these interventions again reveal the Chancellor’s inability to comprehend the specific challenges faced by night time economy businesses, such as nightclubs, casinos and bars, many of which have been entirely unable to open during the pandemic and face higher costs relative to wider hospitality.

With no meaningful expansion to CRF eligibility, and no bespoke support for our sector, we are once again left with a package totally incommensurate with businesses’ costs – including spiralling commercial rent arrears.

“While the roadmap announcement gave hope to our sector last week, the Chancellor is now at risk of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. With the money spent on support to date, it is ridiculous that many nightlife businesses may now fall at the final hurdle.”


The retail sector

Retail keeps an eye on the devil in the detail



The Chancellor has listened to many of our concerns and we welcome the extension of key business funding schemes.


Helen Dickinson BRC
Helen Dickinson Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium

This announcement provides some targeted support to struggling businesses across the country. Action to support the retail industry will be vital to reviving the economy – including business rates relief, restart grants and loans, and an extension to the furlough scheme.

However, for many retailers the devil will be in the detail, with caps on funding limiting access to this support. Retail accounts for over three million jobs, spread across every region of the UK; supporting the success of our industry will be essential to unlocking consumer spending and driving forward the UK’s economic recovery.

The Chancellor must keep the situation under review, as we wait to see how the economy responds to reopening.

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