Budget brings some good news
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Budget brings some good news

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There was some good news for the leisure industry in yesterday's budget, which paved the way for free museum access and scrapped betting duty. The betting industry welcomed the news that tax-free betting is on the way. From next January, the 9 per cent levy paid by punters on stake or winnings will be scrapped and replaced by a 15 per cent tax on bookies' gross profits. This will help bookmakers expand their onshore betting business, which has been hit by a rapid growth in internet and off-shore gaming. It means that punters won't be taxed and the extra betting turnover should enable both the betting and racing industries to prosper. Chief executive of Ladbrokes, Chris Bell, was delighted: This has to rank alongside Red Rum's three Grand National wins and Frankie Dettori's magnificent seven as one of the best ever days for punters. Everyone associated with the industry is a winner - customers, the industry, racing and the Exchequer. In response, Ladbrokes will move its offshore betting business to the UK as soon as possible, and in anticipation to increased consumer demand will invest in its shops, telephone and internet businesses. Labour's manifesto promise of offering free admission to the 13 state-funded museums took a step closer with the announcement that the taxation laws will be reformed so museums can let people in for free, but still claim back tax on purchases. In the current system, non-charging museums are not considered businesses, so cannot make claims. The Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum will be among the public museums able to abandon their fees. This could be put into action by September, but consultation with museums and galleries will take place first. An extra £13.5m over two years will be set aside from 1 December to compensate museums that charge. Culture Secretary, Chris Smith, who has lobbied for this, said: This has been a long held ambition. It restores the principle of free entry that we so tragically lost in the 1980s. It will enable the greatest collections we have, built up by public funds over the generations, to be available to everyone, no matter what their income or background may be. Amateur sports clubs also benefitted from the budget, as donations are now exempt from tax. However, some organisations, including the Central Council for Physical Recreation were disappointed that the changes stopped short of bringing in mandatory rate relief for sports clubs - this is still at the discretion of local authorities. Semi-professional clubs that pay members to represent them and health clubs acting as businesses will be barred from this tax relief. Sports Minister, Kate Hoey, says this is a huge boost for grass roots sport.

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There was some good news for the leisure industry in yesterday's budget, which paved the way for free museum access and scrapped betting duty.
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