Jeff Smith MP, Shadow Education Minister, speaks at Ygam

Shadow Minister calls for White Paper funding reform at Ygam reception

Ygam hosted a Parliamentary Reception this week, featuring speeches from several sitting MPs, including Shadow Education Minister Jeff Smith MP and former Gambling Minister Damian Collins.

On the agenda was, unsurprisingly, the forthcoming White Paper on the UK’s Gambling Act review, which will overhaul Britain’s legislation on betting and gaming for the first time since 2005, with the aim of bringing regulation into the digital age.

Over the two-year course of the review, much of the focus has been on affordability checks and sponsorship/marketing provisions, but the issue of research, education and treatment (RET) funding has been a major talking point in recent months. 

Outlining his views on the topic, Smith remarked: “It is absolutely vital that the White Paper gives a clear steer on funding for those in the sector, and we must also recognise that funding should not be limited to treatment provision alone. 

“We need to be focused on preventing harm as well as tackling it when it has been able to develop. That is where charities like Ygam really come into their own, and part of the Government’s responsibilities in this White Paper is to address the concerns around the sustainability of their services and provisions.”

The debate on RET funding has seen a range of stakeholders throw their hats into the ring, including GambleAware, treatment organisations such as Dealmeout and public health directors.

A recent update saw the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) defend its record on RET funding, its relationship with GambleAware and the investment activities of bet365, Flutter Entertainment, William Hill and Entain.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned Collins, who was DCMS Select Committee Chair between 2016 and 29019 and Gambling Minister in 2022, was the host of the Ygam’s recent reception, and apparently praised Ygam’s safeguarding work for young people.

However, the main focus of the event was the unveiling of Ygam’s strategy for 2023, which will focus on educating children and young people between the ages of seven and 25 on gambling harm. 

The strategy was informed via engagement with a ‘diverse range of stakeholders and staff’, in order to have ‘clarity and purpose’ on the group’s forward trajectory.

“The digital world offers huge opportunities, but with those opportunities come risks, particularly for young people who live in an increasingly digitised world,” said Dr Jane Rigbye, Ygam Chief Executive.

“We have a clear purpose, we deliver evidence-based programmes, and we are focused on understanding and continuously improving our impact.

“We want to ensure that universal education and prevention is seen as an essential part of the public health response to gambling and gaming, and that it is adequately funded over the long term. Ygam are here to demonstrate that delivering effective prevention education to all young people is achievable, worthwhile, and will save lives.”

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