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Racing Industry

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons on 27th April 2020.

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Photo of Laura Farris Laura Farris Conservative, Newbury

What steps he is taking to support the racing industry.

Photo of Nigel Huddleston Nigel Huddleston Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

We are committed to supporting our world-leading horse-racing industry. The Government have put in place an unprecedented support package of business rates relief and support with employment costs, which is helping racing, like other businesses. The Horserace Betting Levy Board is making £20 million of cash flow available to race courses, alongside the £8 million that the Racing Foundation is providing to support participants. The Government are working closely with the industry and the levy board to understand and address the ongoing challenges.

Photo of Laura Farris Laura Farris Conservative, Newbury

I represent some of the UK’s leading racehorse trainers, in Lambourn. The British Horseracing Authority has been working hard on plans for behind-closed-doors race meetings, limited to 12 jockeys in a single race and no crowds. What commitments can my hon. Friend make to supporting such creative solutions, for an industry under intense pressure, once the lockdown restrictions are relaxed?

Photo of Nigel Huddleston Nigel Huddleston Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

I thank my hon. Friend for her support of the horse-racing industry. All major sports need to look after their staff, competitors, stakeholders and fans, and that includes having an eye to when competition might resume.

At this stage, it is not possible to give a timescale for when current restrictions will be relaxed. Potential conditions in which sport might return include behind closed doors, with neutral venues and with limited staff and broadcast crew. Other considerations would include first responder capacity and the availability of regular testing. We are in regular contact with the sector on what might be possible in future, but this will be entirely dependent on public health guidelines.