• Emma Walsh

Soft drink 'Sugar tax' starts today 6 April 2018

WITH THE AIM OF TACKLING CHILDHOOD OBESITY THE GOVERNMENT HAS INTRODUCED THE NEW SO-CALLED 'SUGAR TAX' THE SOFT DRINKS INDUSTRY LEVY - ANNOUNCED BACK IN THE 2016 BUDGET, THE QUESTION IS; WILL IT WORK ??!

From today (Friday 6th April 2018) manufacturers have to pay a levy on the high-sugar drinks they sell.

Ministers and campaigners believe it has already proved to be a success with many firms reducing sugar content ahead of the change whilst others say it is still too early to judge the impact.


Major brands such as Ribena, Fanta and Lucozade have cut the sugar content of drinks, others such as Coca-Cola has not.


Fanta has cut it by nearly a third, Ribena and Irn-Bru by half and Lucozade by nearly two-thirds.


How it will work

The levy will be payable by manufacturers - whether they pass it on to consumers or not is their decision.


The Levy will be charged on volumes according to total sugar content;


Higher rate charge; Drinks with more than 8g per 100ml will face a tax rate equivalent to 24p per litre.


Main rate charge; Those containing 5-8g of sugar per 100ml will pay a rate of tax of 18p per litre.

Pure fruit juices are exempt as they do not carry added sugar


Drinks with a high milk content are exempt due to their calcium content.


Products such as cakes, biscuits and other foods are not covered by the tax, although a separate initiative is encouraging manufacturers to reduce the sugar content of those items voluntarily.


Will it work ?

The increase in tax placed on soft drinks will make products more expensive, but will this actually discourage people from buying them?


Or will we just end up with consumers buying the same amount but paying more?

Polling suggests this may be the case for many people.


Research by Mintel found just under 50% of Britons say taxing unhealthy products would encourage them to cut back.


By comparison, the survey of 2,000 people showed that clear to understand nutritional information would alter the purchasing habits of three-quarters of people,


Teenagers are the worst offenders

All age groups are consuming too much sugar, with teenagers the worst. It is reported that they get a quarter of their sugar intake from soft drinks.


Public Health Minister Steve Brine said: "Our teenagers consume nearly a bathtub of sugary drinks each year on average, fuelling a worrying obesity trend.


"The levy is a ground-breaking policy that will help to reduce sugar intake."


Public Health England also hopes it will improve the oral health of children.

To coincide with the introduction of the levy, the agency released figures showing a child in England has a tooth removed in hospital every 10 minutes due to preventable decay.


PHE's Dr Sandra White said: "It's upsetting to see so many children admitted to hospital with tooth decay."


She is urging families to skip soft drinks altogether and to consume water and lower-fat milks.


Estimates by the Treasury based on market data suggest 50% of manufacturers have reduced the sugar content of their drinks.