British Dressage reduces levies, pledges membership freeze

A series of measures have been introduced to provide financial support to organisers and judges during the current cost-of-living crisis.
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Rising costs and high inflation have prompted British Dressage (BD) to reduce starter levies for national competitions and pledge a freeze on membership prices in 2023.

The British Dressage Board also agreed to remove all minimum starter levy payments for all regular national competitions (from Preliminary up to Advanced Medium), meaning venues will pay competitor levies based only on the actual number of entries. BD also approved a reduction in the starter levy payable per competitor from £2 to £1.50 for a 12-month period.

This has enabled an increase in judge payments per starter, split into two tiers, with Lists 1 to 4 increasing from £1 to £1.50 per starter and Lists 5 and 6 increasing from £1 to £1.25 per starter.

By introducing a two-tiered approach to judge payments, the aim is to encourage venues to use lower listed judges at regular competitions, to provide them with additional opportunities and help support their progression through the levels, while continuing to use higher listed judges for Elementary and above.

The moves are among a series of measures aimed at providing financial support to organisers and judges during the current cost-of-living crisis.

“By reducing starter levies, BD is effectively subsidising the increase in payments for judges for the first 12 months,” said Caroline Godfrey, BD Interim Chair and Finance Director.

“We wanted to find a way to enhance the rate of pay for judges, without having an immediate financial impact on organisers, or resulting in extra costs being passed on to competitors.”

Godfrey said BD aimed to operate under this commercial new structure from July 1, 2022, through to June 30, 2023, as a minimum. It will then be reviewed again when budgets are formulated for the next year.

“It is important to note that the basic rate for judges has not been increased since payments were initially introduced over a decade ago, so these changes are long overdue. With the ongoing cost of living crisis and rising fuel prices, the Board agreed that it was critical to address this imbalance, to ensure that BD venues can continue to attract the number and level of judges required to support our competitions,” Godfrey said.

All FEI tests at regular competition will remain at £2 per starter, and this rate will also apply at High Profile Shows, to bring it in line with Premier Leagues and BD National, Winter and Area Festival Championships.

BD Chief Executive Jason Brautigam said the organisation’s pandemic recovery had been stronger than anticipated, which has allowed the use of some of last year’s surplus to support the latest initiatives and help to safeguard the future of the sport.

“It is everyone’s interests to ensure that shows remain commercially viable and attractive propositions for our members, organisers and officials. With over 18,000 active members and 17,000 horse registrations the sport is in good health currently, but there is no room for complacency, and we will continue to monitor participation numbers closely,” he said.

BD said it was mindful of the impact that the rising cost of living will be having on members, particularly with the high price of fuel, and this will continue to be at the top of the agenda for the Board of Directors over the coming months.

The BD Board has pledged to maintain membership subscription fees at current levels, if possible, when reviewing its pricing policy at the end of the year. “With inflation expected to rise to 10%, this will be budget dependent, given that membership fees have only increased once since the start of 2019. However, our focus remains on ensuring members continue to receive excellent value for money.”

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