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Call For a Sugary Drinks Duty in UK Budget 2013

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Call For a Sugary Drinks Duty in UK Budget 2013

Call For a Sugary Drinks Duty in UK Budget 2013
January 30
14:12 2013

More than 60 organisations are backing the recommendations in a major new report, which calls for Budget 2013 to implement a sugary drinks duty. The report, ‘A Children’s Future Fund – How food duties could provide the money to protect children’s health and the world they grow up in’ is published by Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming.

It proposes that the money raised from a duty on sugary drinks should be ring-fenced for a ‘Children’s Future Fund’ to spend on programmes to improve children’s health and future well-being.

Pointing to the high levels of diet-related illness which is costing the NHS £6 billion every year, the report makes three recommendations for Budget 2013 to:

* Introduce a sugary drinks duty for the UK which, for example at 20p per litre, would raise around £1 billion a year;

* Ring-fence the majority of money raised from a sugary drinks duty for a Children’s Future Fund, which could be spent on improving children’s health by, for example, providing free school meals, or sustainably produced fruit and vegetable snacks in schools; and

* Give an independent body the responsibility to oversee how the sugary drinks duty is implemented and make sure the revenue is spent effectively.

The report also recommends, in the longer-term, that the UK VAT system is revised to reflect the healthiness of food and drinks and that unsustainable foods also carry a levy.

Supporting organisations include the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Association for the Study of Obesity, Friends of the Earth, the National Heart Forum and the Royal Society for Public Health.

Charlie Powell, Campaign’s Director for Sustain, comments: “Sugar-laden drinks are mini-health timebombs, contributing to dental diseases, obesity and a host of life-threatening illnesses which cost the NHS billions each year. We are delighted that so many organisations want to challenge the Government to show it has a public health backbone by including a sugary drinks duty in Budget 2013. It’s a simple and easy-to-understand measure which will help save lives by reducing sugar in our diets and raising much needed money to protect children’s health.”

Mike Rayner of the Department of Public Health at Oxford University and Chair of Sustain says: “Just as we use fiscal measures to discourage drinking and smoking and help prevent people from dying early, there is now lots of evidence that the same approach would work for food. This modest proposal goes some way towards making the price of food reflect its true costs to society. Our obesity epidemic causes debilitating illness, life threatening diseases and misery for millions of people. It is high time government did something effective about this problem.”

Food and Drink Federation Response

In response, Terry Jones, Director of Communications at the Food and Drink Federation, says: “Soft drinks are currently taxed at the standard VAT rate of 20%. Any additional taxation of food will hit the poorest families hardest at a time when they can least afford it. Recognising the growing obesity problem, food and drink manufacturers are committed to doing what they can to improve public health. By changing product recipes, creating new healthier options, investing in consumer education and providing clear nutritional information to enable healthier choices, manufacturers are playing their part to deliver better long-term public health outcomes.”

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