More than 200 BHA staff laid off in coronavirus emergency plan

More than 200 staff at the British Horseracing Authority will be laid off with the aim of saving the horse racing industry £1 million a month.

The cutbacks, announced as part of an emergency financial response to the coronavirus pandemic, have been made so the sport can be in a position to resume on May 1.

Executives spent Thursday finalising the plans after a meeting of the BHA board.

Chief Executive Nick Rust then informed staff of the decision.

Most of those affected are raceday officials, but the cuts have also hit Great British Racing, the sport's official marketing and promotional body, as well as its international service.

All BHA staff will have their salaries reduced as part of the plan.

Employees will be stood down using the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Chairperson Annamarie Phelps said: "Our board considered a range of options for how to maintain the most appropriate team that would allow us to carry out our role in the industry’s crisis response.

"That includes the urgent financial work we are doing alongside industry colleagues, engaging effectively with government and making sure we have the right plan and the right resources in place to start racing again when we can.

"In particular, whilst the current suspension is to the end of April, we will ensure that racing is ready to resume from the 1st of May onwards, if it proves possible to do so.

“The board was briefed on the impact of this crisis across the whole industry and took this into account in its decision-making.

"We were unanimous that the package of options agreed was the right way forward at this time."

Most projects BHA staff were working on have been paused, including the whip consultation, which was due to be concluded by October.

A programme of cost savings linked to a reduction in the normal activity supporting racing is within the framework.

It is estimated nearly £1 million a month could be saved, a third of the BHA’s normal monthly budget.

“My message to all our staff is that I’m incredibly proud of the work you have been doing to support the industry," Ms Phelps added.

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