THE BLOG
12/02/2016 11:33 GMT | Updated 11/02/2017 05:12 GMT

A Sugar Tax Is Not Just Anti-Consumer, But Anti-Business too

The sugar tax, the proposal to ban TV advertising, the proposal to restrict 'buy one, get one free' offers - they are not just anti-business, but they are also anti-consumer.

With just weeks or even days to go before David Cameron's long-awaited childhood obesity strategy announcement, it is clear that the health campaigners are ramping up the pressure on the government.

In the last three weeks alone, we have seen the NHS announce the introduction of a sugar tax in hospitals, a report by the Food Foundation calling for a sugar tax, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) chipping in with their own report too. There have also been open letters calling for a sugar tax in at least two national newspapers.

Just a coincidence? I'm not so sure.

Consider the timing of the NHS announcement. Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive, may well believe in a sugar tax, but he has had months to make that announcement. It was clearly an attempt to pressurise or even bully ministers into bringing in a national sugar tax.

It must be pointed out that there is a large number of people, maybe even a majority of people across Britain who are against a sugar tax. Our own survey in November of 500 people showed an emphatic 77% against a sugar tax.

Looking at the sentiment coming from some of the health campaigners, it is clear that improving public health is not their only reason for pushing for a sugar tax. Some of them (not all) clearly want to have a pop at some of the big food and drinks companies. Whilst not defending these companies completely, it is worth pointing out that these companies employ thousands of people, both directly and indirectly, helping to fund the NHS. They provide products which have been extremely popular for decades.

The sugar tax, the proposal to ban TV advertising, the proposal to restrict 'buy one, get one free' offers - they are not just anti-business, but they are also anti-consumer.

Many hard-working families find it hard enough to pay the bills as it is. With fresh signs of wage growth slowing down, how is any of that going to make things better?

Government statistics show that sugar consumption in the UK is 16% lower than in 1992. There is absolutely no need for a sugar tax, and no need to make life harder for consumers and businesses. Leave people alone to make their own choices.