Chancellor announces sugar tax on soft drinks

George Osbourne
George Osbourne

Chancellor George Osborne has announced a sugar tax on soft drinks which he said will raise £530m for school sports.

Mr Osborne has delivered his eighth Budget today (March 16).

He said: “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 said he was concerned about the number of children eating their bodyweight in sugar every year.

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.”

The tax will imposed on companies according to the volume of sugar-sweetened drinks they produce or import.

Soft drinks companies will pay a levy on drinks with added sugar from April 2018. This will apply to drinks with total sugar content above 5 grams per 100 millilitres, with a higher rate for more than 8 grams per 100 millilitres.

This won’t need to be paid on milk-based drinks or fruit juices.

The moneyu raised will be used to double the primary PE and sport premium – the additional money schools have to spend on PE and sports.

Chris Askew, Diabetes UK Chief Executive, said: “It is really promising news that the Government has announced a tax on the soft drinks industry. We have been campaigning for this measure as we are all consuming too much sugar.

“This is contributing to the huge rise we are seeing in the numbers of people who are overweight and obese, and therefore at increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. There are already around 3.6 million people in the UK with Type 2 diabetes. This is already a huge health and economic burden for individuals and health systems.

“However, this tax should not be absorbed by the soft drinks industry. Prices need to change otherwise there will be no impact on the health of nation. We now look forward to seeing further measures to tackle this crisis in the forthcoming Childhood Obesity Strategy. We would like to see mandatory targets for food manufacturers to reduce levels of salt, fat and sugar in their products, and restrict marketing of junk food to children.”

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