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The Chancellor, George Osborne, recently announced that a long awaited (by some) Sugar Tax on sweetened sugary soft drinks will come into play by 2018.
On the sugar levy, Mr Osborne told MPs: “Doing the right thing for the next generation is what this government and this Budget is about.
“No matter how difficult and how controversial it is.”
“You cannot have a long-term plan for the country unless you have a long-term plan for our children’s health care.”
He added: “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 and we knew it caused disease but we dumped the difficult decisions and did nothing’.
Osborne revealed that there will be two tax bands for drinks – one for moderately sweetened drinks, and a second, higher band for the sweetest drinks.
Drinks manufacturers will be taxed according to the volume of drinks they produce. (Independent, 2016)
The tax will come into force in two years’ time in order to give companies time to change the ingredients of their products.
Osborne also announced today that the estimated £520m raised from the sugar tax will go toward school sports.
This news will please many parents who are concerned about their children’s health and future, given the calorific content of these drinks and the way the marketing of them seems to be aimed at children.
One leading champion of the campaign to introduce a levy on fizzy pop was Jamie Oliver. He tweeted this afternoon:
“We did it guys!! We did it!!! A sugar levy on sugary sweetened drinks……A profound move…”
His media campaign has been one of the key drivers in bringing in this change.
However, there are those that were not so pleased to hear the sugar tax announcement today.
Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association, said: “We are extremely disappointed by the Government’s decision to hit the only category in the food and drink sector which has consistently reduced sugar intake in recent years – down 13.6% since 2012.” (Sky News, 2016)
Our view? If this tax means that our nation’s children are healthier in the years to come, then it can only be a good thing. But this levy can only be part of a wider shift in national consciousness towards healthier ways of living; this incudes diet, exercise and lifestyle in general.
We shall wait and see if David Cameron’s anticipated Obesity Strategy (due soon) covers many of the issues that need to be tackled, if we are to make a healthier nation for generations to come.