Racing backs help package for the self-employed but admits challenges remain
British racing voiced its approval of a significant package of support for self-employed workers unveiled by the government on Thursday, with the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) outlining its backing of the actions by stating they came "not a day too soon".
Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed that those earning the majority of their income from being self-employed would be paid 80 per cent of their average monthly profit over the last three years, up to £2,500 per month, in a move that mirrors the package announced previously for furloughed employees.
Many jockeys, trainers and other self-employed racing professionals had been left in limbo about their income while the sport is shutdown until at least the end of April due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has paused huge parts of society and has claimed 578 lives in the United Kingdom as of 9am on Thursday, an increase of 103 from the previous day.
Paul Struthers, PJA chief executive, said: "We very much welcome this package of support which will help jockeys, valets and trainers, as well as other core segments of the industry's workforce, navigate an extremely challenging period.
"This news comes not a day too soon as there has been significant uncertainty and concern among our members and I'm sure this has been shared by the many other self-employed individuals in the racing industry."
Access to the self-employed help scheme, which will be available to those with trading profits of up to £50,000 – parameters that will encompass 95 per cent of those who earn the majority of their income from working for themselves, according to Sunak – will be from no later than the start of June, with payments made in one lump sum.
The wait for payment remains potentially problematic for some individuals, despite greater access to the Universal Credit benefit in the interim, and Struthers added: "While the package is welcomed, there will remain an acute, short-term need. We will now focus our efforts on continuing to work with other racing stakeholders – and utilising our own available funds and support from the Injured Jockeys Fund – to provide this short-term assistance that will be required."
Those eligible for help are set to be contacted directly by HMRC, while anyone who has not yet filed a tax return for 2019 has been given an extra four weeks' grace to submit the paperwork.
The BHA, and racing's industry stakeholders, continue to work on an industry plan to submit to government, with the proposal reportedly set to be signed and delivered within days.
Chief executive Nick Rust said: "Self-employed people form an integral part of the racing industry and we welcome the proposed package of support.
"Racing will now liaise with government to gain an understanding of the full details of the proposals, including what support is available to self-employed people prior to June. In addition, the information will be used to help determine where racing's own funds will be best allocated to support its workforce."
Sunak, who suggested there would be long-term changes to the tax system for self-employed workers as a result of state intervention, said: "I know many self-employed people are deeply anxious about support available to them. To you I say this, you have not been forgotten. We will not leave you behind, we all stand together."
On Thursday, the BHA also emphasised people looking for work in the racing industry can make use of the job board on careersinracing.com.
Will Lambe, BHA executive director, said: "Our sport's people, and its horses, are at the forefront of our minds. They are the priority for the group of industry leaders tasked with assessing the implications of the cancellation of racing, the crisis overall, and our sport's resumption as soon as is possible.
"The careersinracing job board is free for all employers across the sport, and exists to make the process of finding staff, and finding work, as straightforward as possible."
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