I have received a number of emails regarding plans to introduce a levy on soft drinks that contain added sugar.
The Government has announced that legislation for the implementation of the Soft Drink Industry Levy will be included in the upcoming Finance Bill and will be introduced from April 2018.
I understand concerns that the UK has one of the highest overall obesity rates among developed countries. The estimated cost to the UK economy today from obesity is between £27 billion and £46 billion, with the NHS spending over £6 billion a year on weight and obesity-related ill health. I agree this needs to be tackled.
However, I have not yet made a decision as to whether I will support this particular measure. A number of counter-points to the proposal for a levy on soft drinks that I am considering include:
-that this levy seems, to me, to be regressive – hitting poorer shoppers harder, and I don’t believe lower-income people should be priced out of an enjoyable pint or soda that they have every right to decide to have.
-that in general I believe it is for parents, not Government, to determine how to raise, and feed, their children.
-that in many cases, artificial sweeteners do not seem to be an improvement, and may be harmful in other ways.
-that I would be inclined to support more positive measures to provide good nutrition education and facilitate activity through expanded school sport opportunities.
I am pleased that the childhood obesity plan does also include other measures to increase activity and health education.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me, and I will consider all sides of the argument and make a decision in due course.