Newmarket: MP secures debate on horse race levy

A SUFFOLK MP has secured a debate over the crucial funding of the horseracing industry through a bookies levy.

Matthew Hancock, MP for West Suffolk, has won the chance to debate the controversial Horse Racing Betting Levy, which could be worth �150million to the industry every year.

Mr Hancock, whose constituency covers Newmarket, will debate the levy with Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for culture, media and sports.

The Horse Racing Betting Levy is effectively a tax on bookmakers’ profits which goes to fund the horseracing industry.

The Government has been asked to step in to set the level of next year’s subsidy after negotiations broke down between the betting and horseracing industries earlier this year.

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Racing was asking for between �130m and �150m in the scheme, which runs between 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012.

But bookmakers were only offering to pay between �50m and �55m.

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Mr Hancock said it was vital to protect the horseracing industry, which provides 100,000 full-time jobs in the UK and contributes �3.5billion to the country’s economy.

“I am delighted I have managed to secure some time in the House of Commons for this vital issue,” he said. “The secretary of state is currently making his deliberations and it is important to demonstrate just how many people care about this issue.”

Jockey AP McCoy, winner of this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year award on Sunday, is one of 2,567 people to sign The Racing United Charter, which hopes to close loopholes in the levy system.

The charter proposes forcing the offshore betting industry to meet its levy obligations, which currently costs the industry �10m a year.

It also demands bookmakers pay a fair commercial return to British racing worth up to �25m a year.

“We must do what we can to ensure the racing industry continues to flourish,” Mr Hancock said. “It is a true national treasure.”

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