Horse Racing: Equine Flu

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 21st February 2019.

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Photo of John Lamont John Lamont Conservative, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to support horse racing venues after the recent equine flu outbreak.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Chair, Draft Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what support his Department has provided to the horseracing industry following the recent equine influenza outbreak and suspension of racing.

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) is an arms-length body of DCMS which is responsible for collecting a statutory Levy from betting operators which it distributes in line with its statutory duties to support British horse racing. In April 2017, the Government implemented significant reforms to the Levy, resulting in a £45m increase in statutory Levy income in 2017/18.

The HBLB provides over £200,000 annually for the Equine Influenza Programme, and a further £150,000 towards the Equine Infectious Disease Surveillance Programme, provides British racing with expert information and provisions to minimise the impact of equine diseases and respond quickly to outbreaks.

HBLB has committed to pay a contribution to owners or trainers for the costs incurred where the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) recently required test samples to be taken for equine influenza, including the cost of the swabs and the veterinary fees involved. In addition, HBLB has committed £321,500 to support the rescheduling of replacement races and fixtures following the recent suspension, and will continue discussions with the BHA regarding funding for further races and fixtures as required. The BHA have now scheduled a number of additional fixtures from February 20th onwards.

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