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Horse Racing

Volume 703: debated on Thursday 18 November 2021

I commend my right hon. Friend for his continued active advocacy on behalf of British horse racing and Newmarket in particular. I am pleased to tell the House that racecourses are accessing £21 million from the sport survival package. They have also had £28 million in cash-flow and hardship funding, in addition to which the Horserace Betting Levy Board provided £97 million in 2019-20 to support the sport.

I am very grateful for the work that the Department and the Minister have done in the pandemic to support horse racing, but as a major contributor to the economy and soft power, and with one in three jobs in Newmarket in my constituency connected with horse racing, is it not vital that we strengthen further the horserace betting levy to ensure that all betting makes a contribution and to ensure that we get the support for horse racing, which is such a glorious sport?

I agree entirely about the importance of horse racing to the UK, both economically and more generally. As I have said, the levy contributed £97 million in the year before the pandemic, about 10% more than the forecast. Even in the pandemic year 2020-21, it contributed £80 million, so generally speaking the levy has returned more money than was initially expected. However, we are always willing to look at evidence, so if there is anything that my right hon. Friend would like to send in that we could carefully consider, I would be delighted to look at that.