A new sugar tax on the soft drinks industry to be introduced in two years’ time to cut down on spiralling childhood obesity levels, finance minister George Osborne said today.
The levy is to be calculated on levels of sugar in sweetened drinks produced and imported, based on two bands. It will raise £520m a year to be spent on doubling funding for primary school sport.
Pure fruit juice and milk-based drinks to be excluded and small supplies will be exempt.
Announcing the surprise move, Mr Osborne said: Britain will impose a tax on excessive sugar levels in soft drinks, starting in two years’ time, to cut down on spiralling childhood obesity levels, finance minister George Osborne said today.
“We all know one of the biggest contributors to childhood obesity is sugary drinks.
“I am not prepared to look back at my time here in this Parliament, doing this job and say to my children’s generation: I’m sorry. We knew there was a problem with sugary drinks. We knew it caused disease. But we ducked the difficult decisions and we did nothing. So today I can announce that we will introduce a new sugar levy on the soft drinks industry.”
He added: “The OBR estimate that this levy will raise £520m. And this is tied directly to the second thing we’re going to do today to help children’s health and wellbeing. We’re going to use the money from this new levy to double the amount of funding we dedicate to sport in every primary school.”
A report in February from Cancer Research UK and UK Health Forum predicted a 20 per cent levy would prevent 3.7 million people becoming obese over the next decade and would save the NHS £10m a year.
Jeremy Corbyn, who responded to the Budget for Labour, said he welcomed the action to tackle the “grotesque” amount of sugar children were consuming.
Jamie Oliver, who has led the campaign to reduce childhood obesity has praised the government for a “profound move” as George Osborne announced he will be introducing a sugar tax in a bid to cut obesity.
The Chancellor confirmed the news during his Budget on Wednesday, and celebrity chef Jamie is delighted after campaigning for a levy on soft drinks firms in the past.
Sharing a picture of the announcement on Instagram, he wrote: “We did it guys !!we did it !!! A sugar levy on sugary sweetened drinks ……
“A profound move that will ripple around the world ….business can not come between our Kids health !! Our kids health comes first …..
“Bold, brave , logical and supported by all the right people….now bring on the whole strategy soon to come … Amazing news”