THE BLOG

The Chancellor Must Scrap This Sugar Tax

22/03/2016 10:05 GMT | Updated 22/03/2017 09:12 GMT

Last week saw the Chancellor propose one of the most anti-consumer and anti-business taxes there could ever be - a sugar tax.

For weeks, we'd all be wondering whether the government would be brave (or foolish) enough to bring in such a regressive tax. Around 1.30pm on Wednesday 16 March 2016, we were left in no doubt about their intentions.

We all know obesity is a serious issue, but a sugar tax is just a gimmick. It grabs a great headline. However, it will not be the solution that health campaigners want it to be. They latch on to any glimmer of evidence from wherever in the word that supports their case, and they say 'look, a sugar tax can work!'.

Most ordinary people see this sugar tax as ridiculous, but also as an attack on their freedom to choose what they want to put in their shopping basket. We must resist these unwelcome intrusions into people's lives.

The real shocker of last week's announcement though is the cost of the sugar tax. The Office for Budget Responsibility have revealed that the set up costs of a sugar tax are £1 billion. This £1 billion relates solely to the public finances. Any costs to business are on top of that.

That is a staggeringly huge figure. We all know that a sugar tax will require more bureaucrats, more quangos, more government expenditure to begin with, but £1 billion to cover these costs will shock most families as they sit down for their breakfast cereal.

£1 billion being wasted on this sugar tax when it could be spent elsewhere in the health service is not the only scandal.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) have also said that the sugar tax will mean an increase in the Retail Price Index (RPI). This in turn will mean more expensive debt interest. Our national debt will become even harder to pay off because of the sugar tax.

All in all, the sugar tax announcement has been a complete shambles. We would urge George Osborne to do a u-turn and scrap this wasteful sugar tax. He's done it before with the pasty tax. It will be less politically damaging to the Chancellor if he scraps the sugar tax now rather than later. Over to you George.