New sugar tax not very popular
One of the surprise announcements in the Chancellor's Budget on Wednesday was the introduction of a new sugar tax. The plan is to whack an as-yet undisclosed amount on to sugary drinks containing more than 5g/100ml or 8g/100ml of sugar, excluding milk drinks and pure juices. The Chancellor is going to spend all the cash gathered by this cunning wheeze to obliterate obesity in a two-pronged attack by forcing school children to do more sports. He seems very proud of himself for coming up with this plan, but is everyone else as chuffed?
Frankly, no. The Chancellor himself said in his speech that he expects manufacturers will pass the cost of the levy on to consumers but he's happy with this, assuming higher prices will mean all those who currently swill full fat cola will automatically switch to water instead. Unfortunately many people don't agree with this, with high profile think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), who have already described the Budget forecasts as worrying suggesting the plans "will lead to lower wages and living standards", think that people will simply go and buy a chocolate bar instead.
This means that those desperate for a 'sugar hit' will likely not pay the tax, but occasional fizzy pop partakers will. The likely amount of levy is also anticipated to be a hefty 8p-10p per can, and is also likely to affect can/bottle sizes and promotional discounts. Thanks George.
The IFS further pointed out the fact that just 17% of added sugar comes from soft drinks, and that this new levy will do nothing to tackle foods which are high in sugar. Critics also point out that if only pure juices are exempt, drinks containing juice and water (and thereby less natural sugar) will be taxed, whereas more sugary pure juice will not be.
A poll of Conservative MPs taken by the Telegraph before the Budget suggested that four in five Tory MPs are opposed to the plans. It is unclear, however, whether they just spoke to five MPs.
Nevertheless, the soft drinks industry are Very Unhappy with the plans, and Coke is leading the charge rubbishing the plans. Coca-Cola’s UK boss, Leendert den Hollander, said: “We don’t believe the sugar tax is the right thing to be done. We are not debating the issue, we are debating the solution. The facts don’t suggest that a sugar tax works to change behaviour.
“We know this is one of the mechanics and solutions that people think will help deal with the issue of obesity, at least from a government perspective, but there is no evidence to suggest that this will reduce obesity.” But then he probably would say that.
Still, it seems sugar tax is here, and we await the final details with horror. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you…