Budget 2016: Sugar Tax On Soft Drinks To Tackle Childhood Obesity

Jamie Oliver is jumping for joy.

16/03/2016 14:00 | Updated 16 March 2016

George Osborne today announced a sugar tax on soft drinks in a bid to tackle the rise in childhood obesity.

The Chancellor revealed the tax would kick in from 2018 and money raised from the levy would fund sports activities in primary schools.

The tax could see the price of a can of fizzy drink rise by 8p.

Nick Ansell/PA Wire
"We did it!": Jamie Oliver celebrates outside Westminster today after George Osborne's announcement of a tax on sugary drinks

George Osborne today announced a sugar tax on soft drinks in a bid to tackle the rise in childhood obesity.

The Chancellor revealed the tax would kick in from 2018 and money raised from the levy would fund sports activities in primary schools.

The tax could see the price of a can of fizzy drink rise by 8p.

Speaking from the Despatch Box as he delivered his Budget, Osborne said: "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."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the tax, saying it was needed to tackle the "grotesque" levels of sugar consumed by children.

Chef Jamie Oliver, who has long campaigned on the issue, Tweeted his delight.

 

The tax itself will be levied on the drinks companies, who will be assessed on the volume of sugar-sweetened drinks they produce or import.

There will be two bands - one for drinks with sugar above five grams per 100 millilitres, and a second for those with more than eight grams per 100 millilitres.

The Chancellor told the Commons that "five-year-old children are consuming their body weight in sugar every year" as he unveiled the policy.

He added: "One of the biggest contributors to childhood obesity is sugary drinks.

"A can of cola typically has nine teaspoons of sugar in it - some popular drinks have as many as 13.

"That can be more than double a child's recommended added sugar intake."

A report by Public Health England produced last year recommended a 10%-20% tax on products with high sugar content.

In January, NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens last month unveiled his own plans to impose a levy on sugary drinks and snacks in vending machines on NHS property.

The British Medical Association today welcomed the announcement, and its Science Board chairperson Baroness Shelia Hollins said: “The Chancellor’s decision to introduce a new levy on excessive sugar in soft drinks is a welcome step forward and a move called for in the BMA’s recent Food for Thought report.

"This is an important initiative that could help to begin to address the obesity crisis amongst young children, although the delay in introducing it for two years is disappointing."

Jamie Oliver threatened to make his sugar tax campaign “more ninja” against the Conservatives last month during an appearance on The Andrew Marr Show.

He said that when he first campaigned on the issue "I was a lone voice, everyone was trying to make me look like a fruit cake" but now organisations from the BMA to cancer charities were on his side.

"Obesity costs more globally than all conflict on the planet. It is a war, it doesn't have a shoot out, it just slowly makes people ill, die young. Anyone you would trust your kids with is in support of this.

"I don’t mind not getting the tax if there’s something better."

While Labour welcomed the policy, Ukip's Director Policy Mark Reckless spoke out against the move. Sugar Tax On Soft Drinks To Tackle Childhood Obesity

 

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