Guardian Reports UKGC to Cut Staffing
by Glenn Baird - April 6, 2020
The Guardian online newspaper reported on Sunday that the UK’s regulatory body, the UKGC will be making cuts to its staffing in the foreseeable future, something that the outlet believes will be detrimental to the Commission’s ability to perform its duties.
The UKGC have yet to comment on the article other than providing a short statement in which they say they have been speaking to staff “about some changes we are considering”.
The Guardian claims that the decision is a result of its £19m annual budget, deemed to be insufficient by the National Audit Office (NAO), which published a report on the Commission in February this year.
This comes at a time when the UKGC are under serious pressure to try and reduce the effects of problem gambling and will, despite the recent audit proving that they are underfunded, be met with harsh criticism by MPs and the media.
Matt Gaskell, the clinical lead for the NHS northern gambling clinics, said: “It further underscores the need for the government to step forward and take definitive legislative action and to strengthen, not weaken, the regulatory framework.”
Whilst the Commission may have dealt out 2 fines in recent months that equate to a record £25m, some of the concerns raised by the NAO were a dearth of preventative measures that would require heavy investment if they were to be a success.
The Labour MP Carolyn Harris, chair of a cross-party group of MPs looking tino gambling harm, said: “Given the abysmal service provided by the commission against a continued onslaught of reprehensible practice among gambling companies, and a woeful report from the NAO, I had expected the Gambling Commission to be beefing up their service in an attempt to justify their existence.
“If they are scaling back it must be assumed they have given up and will be declaring themselves unfit for purpose.”
Vice-chair of the group Iain Duncan Smith said: “If nothing else tells you that the government needs to overhaul the Gambling Commission to give it more teeth, this decision makes it absolutely clear that must be done now.”
A spokesperson for the Commission said: “The pace of change and the complexity of the issues we have to manage are increasing and that means we have to constantly look for ways to be more agile and responsive as new risks or opportunities emerge.
“We will shortly publish our business plan for the next 12 months. Alongside the development of that plan, we have been talking to colleagues about some changes we are considering to meet the challenges ahead, which may affect the way we work and how we organise ourselves in some areas.”