Wales politics

Welsh sunbed and takeaway food pack tax proposed by think tank

Man on a tanning bed Image copyright Getty Images

Charges on sunbed use and take-away food packaging are among a number of taxes the Welsh Government should introduce, according to a think tank.

The Bevan Foundation said eight new taxes would help make Wales "greener, healthier and better off".

The Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru welcomed the report.

But UKIP said the taxes would make Wales "more miserable" and the Conservatives said the report "smacks of nanny statism".

Under the Wales Act 2014, the Welsh Government has the power to establish new taxes in devolved areas.

The taxes proposed by the think tank are:

  • A "sunbed tax" to make sunbed salon sessions more expensive, "intended to reduce total number of visits"
  • A "takeaway packaging tax" on polystyrene packaging which would work in a similar way to the carrier bag charge
  • A "tourism levy", where a "small, per night charge" on temporary accommodation would generate money to be spent on "tourism-related public services"
  • A "sugar tax" on sugary foods and drinks to replace the UK government's sugary drinks levy in Wales
  • "Innovation tax credits" designed to encourage research and development in business
  • A "workforce development levy" to replace the apprenticeship levy in Wales
  • A "land value tax" to replace business rates and council tax, or adjust the way they are calculated
  • A water tax charged to anyone "engaged in the commercial extraction of water"

Bevan Foundation director Victoria Winckler said the sunbed tax would need to be "fairly substantial" to deter people.

She said: "We think taxes are actually really important. We've got used to talking about taxes as if they're a bad thing.

"But actually taxes pay for all the good things we have."

Cabinet secretary for finance Mark Drakeford said: "The power to introduce new Welsh taxes could be used to improve the lives and wellbeing of people across the country.

"This is a very helpful report and raises awareness of these new powers."

UKIP assembly group leader Neil Hamilton said: "The Bevan Foundation wants to make Wales a more miserable place by taxing the people's pleasures."

He added: "Mark Drakeford's refusal to rule out these killjoy taxes shows the danger of giving tax-raising powers to a Welsh Labour government, as the Tory government in London proposes in the Wales Bill now going through Parliament.

"Wales should be given the referendum on tax-raising powers we were promised before giving Labour the power to tax us out of existence."

Welsh Conservative economy spokesman Russell George said: "The report, while well-intentioned, smacks of nanny statism and will serve only to discourage entrepreneurs, boost the black market economy and create another unnecessary layer of bureaucracy."

He added: "Arbitrary taxes will do nothing but leave the people of Wales worse off at a time when gross disposable income already lags behind the rest of the UK."

The Bevan Foundation's research was funded by a grant from the anti-poverty charity the Joseph Rowntree Trust.

Plaid Cymru's shadow cabinet secretary for external affairs, Steffan Lewis, said: "Plaid Cymru was the first major party to propose the introduction of a levy on sugar drinks and we are a party committed to embracing new ideas in other areas of fiscal policy too.

"Over the coming period, the priority will be to secure enhanced fiscal responsibility for Wales so that we can deliver accountability and greater levers for social justice and prosperity."

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