Sir, Reports that the Treasury has ‘pocketed taxes raised through the soft drinks sugar levy that were supposed to support children’s health’ (thegrocer.co.uk, 6 September) are very disappointing.
The UK soft drinks levy has been remarkable in that it led to significant product reformulation by manufacturers. Not only has this resulted in a much bigger reduction of sugar content in drinks than originally anticipated, it ring-fenced £340m of income which has come directly from manufacturers, not the public, to spend on improving children’s health.
What’s more, soft drink manufacturers have been paying the levy in good faith that they are going to be ‘offsetting’ the negative health impact of their products by trying to positively improve children’s lives.
Whilst investing some of these funds into ventures such as breakfast clubs and supporting children’s activities is important, we need clarity from the Chancellor on exactly how the revenue will be spent and how it will improve children’s health.
It is imperative this levy continues, as well as the proposed 20% snack tax and calorie levy (as recommended by Action on Sugar) on all calorie-dense processed foods that meet an agreed criterion set by government. Fat is a bigger contributor to calories in the diet than sugar and it is therefore essential that manufacturers are encouraged to reduce both.
Dr Kawther Hashem, registered nutritionist and campaign lead at Action on Sugar