A controversial ‘sugar tax’ first proposed by former Chancellor George Osborne as part of the March 2016 Budget has been given a green light by the Government – and will go ahead for 2018.
The tax will form part of the Government’s new Childhood Obesity Strategy and will bring Britain in line with the likes of France, Belgium, Hungary and Mexico – all of which have introduced tax on soft drinks containing increased sugar in recent years.
“The soft drinks industry levy is an important step forward in the fight to halt our obesity crisis and create a Britain fit for the future,” said Junior Finance Minister Jane Ellison.
“Obesity is a threat both to the health of children and to our economy, costing the National Health Service (NHS) billions of pounds every year”.
However, earlier versions of the Government’s plan contained restrictions on advertising and promotional deals on junk food and further, more drastic, clamp downs on sugar – all of which have been side-lined in favour of the new tax and a new ‘voluntary challenge’ for the food industry to reduce the sugar in their products by 20 per cent in time for 2020.
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation criticised the Government’s move for snubbing the importance of oral health.
“The Government continue to ignore the children’s oral health crisis we are experiencing in the UK and are putting the wellbeing of millions of people a risk by bowing to pressure from the food and drink industry,” he said.
“Despite the strategy being focused on tackling obesity, the knock on effect it would have had on oral health was enormous and what we have seen today spells bad news for generations of our children.
He added: “We will continue to lobby the Government for more decisive action and apply pressure on the food and drink industry until a telling change is made”.