Scottish Lib Dem leader to call for tax on social media giants to be trebled
Trebling a tax levied on social media giants could raise cash to provide “world class mental health services”, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton will say.
Speaking out about the “dark side of online abuse”, he will insist that social media providers should “pay” for the impact this can have on the mental health of young people.
Addressing the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference in Edinburgh on Saturday, he will say his party would treble the Digital Services Tax – adding this could raise £1.5 billion across the UK next year alone.
That could “unlock” an additional £150 million for the Scottish Government’s budget, with Mr Cole-Hamilton saying the cash could boost mental health services and “save lives”.
The Digital Services Tax was introduced by the UK Government in 2020 as a levy of 2% on the revenues of search engines, social media services and online marketplaces.
Mr Cole-Hamilton will tell his party conference the Liberal Democrats would seek to treble that, as he speaks out about his concerns about the impact of social media on children and young people.
Saying that half of parents have reported that their child has suffered mental ill health at some point, the MSP will insist that the country is facing a “national crisis”.
Mr Cole-Hamilton will say: “I’m really worried about how much social media is a part of this.
“As a political leader I’ve seen my fair share of its dark side, of online abuse.
“But for young people it can feel like there is no escape.”
With the majority of young people on social media, many for “big chunks of the day”, Mr Cole-Hamilton will add that this is “shattering their mental health”.
He will say: “It can impact their sense of self-worth and cause them to hate their own appearance.
“When they are telling us it is doing them harm, and they are, we should listen. Clamping down on harmful content is essential.
“But we need to look deeper at the damage the social media giants have wrought, at the shattered pieces of childhood that lie in the margins of their profits.”
Insisting that it is “time for them to pay”, Mr Cole-Hamilton will say that Liberal democrats would treble the Digital Services Tax “to raise £1.5 billion next year alone”.
And he will add: “That could unlock up to £150 million for the Scottish budget in Barnett consequentials.
“That could help boost mental health support in schools, get more professionals close to where you live, and guarantee that whenever a young person needs help it will come fast.
“This is an opportunity to build world-class mental health services for Scotland.
“Conference, this could save lives.”Published: by Radio NewsHub