The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for remote gaming duty to be doubled, explaining that tax revenue gained could be used to pay for social care.
Amid a criss in health and social care, the Lib Dems stated that rising costs could be backed by an increase in remote gaming duty – essentially online operator taxation rates – from 21% to 42%.
The party estimates that this would generate £56m in revenue to the Llywodraeth Cymru devolved administration, which under its proposals would be used entirely to fund rising staff salaries in the care sector.
“Ambulance delays in Wales are continuously at record highs and are causing real harm every week,” said Jane Dodds MS, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats have consistently been at the forefront of reminding the Government that if we want the crisis in A&E to be solved, we need to solve the crisis in social care and free up hospital beds by moving medically-fit patients into social care.
“Too many people are stranded in hospital beds because there simply aren’t enough care workers to look after them at home or in a care home.”
The Lib Dems have backed its statement citing Social Care Wales statistics showing that there are currently 5,581 social care vacancies in the country, which amounts to around 6.1% of the nation’s total workforce.
To compensate workers and encourage new applicants, the Welsh government intends to boost social care employees’ minimum wage to £10.90 an hour in June, which will cost £70m.
The government had already increased the pay rate to £9.90 an hour back in December 2021, which the Lib Dems estimated cost public coffers £42m.
By doubling the remote gambling tax, Welsh authorities could contribute the £56m raised straight to the social care sector by using the Barnett formula of devolved government economics, the party claims.
We want to double the tax on gambling companies in the UK to give social care workers a £52 million uplift.
What do you think?
— Welsh Liberal Democrats (@WelshLibDems) February 26, 2023
“The social care crisis is having a devastating impact on vulnerable people’s wellbeing and piling pressure on our already-stretched hospitals and GP surgeries,” Dodds continued.
“The first step to fixing this mess is to pay those working in social care more, to prevent the exodus of workers to supermarkets and other better-paid jobs.
“I have seen first-hand the incredible job that care workers do day in and day out. This is a skilled and crucial job and it should be paid more.”
As the UK’s nation-wide Gambling Act review nears its 27th month in the political pipeline, the industry’s financial contribution in taxation has been repeatedly raised.
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has often pointed to the sector’s input of £4.2bn in taxes for the Treasury, as well as £7.1bn to the economy in gross value added.
However, policymakers and observers such as the Welsh Lib Dems, appear to believe that the industry’s financial contribution could be both greater and better utilised in government budgets.
Much of the focus around betting’s financial contribution to UK society has revolved around research, education and training (RET) funding – according to recent reports, a mandatory levy to support such programmes is a likely outcome of the review.
With a new Secretary in charge of the DCMS – which is set to drop its oversight for digital economy matters – and no Under-Secretary overseeing the review, it is unclear when regulatory changes will come into force and what these will entail.