A Children's Future Fund - How food duties could provide the money to protect children's health and the world they grow up in

The Children's Future Fund report points to the high levels of diet-related illness which is costing the NHS £6 billion every year and makes three recommendations for Budget 2013.

29/01/2013
Children's Food Campaign
978-1-903060-55-1 - 48pp - 2013

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How a Children’s Future Fund, funded by a sugary drinks duty, could pay for programmes to improve children’s health and protect the environment they grow up in.

The Children’s Future Fund report points to the high levels of diet-related illness which is costing the NHS £6 billion every year and 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 and high quality school meals; improving food education and skills – such as cooking and growing – in schools; offering free and sustainably produced fruit and vegetable snacks in schools; and installing fresh drinking water fountains in schools.
  • 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 presents the case that in the longer-term, we need to revise our VAT system so that it is linked to the healthiness of food and we need to develop food duties on unsustainable food which would take into account criteria such as environmentally friendly farming, high animal welfare, ethical trading, low greenhouse gas emissions, water stewardship, and reducing waste, alongside healthy nutrition.

Sugary drinks are presented as the logical starting point for a simple and easily understandable fiscal policy on food to raise money for the Children’s Future Fund because of (1) the research linking them to obesity and dental decay (2) the fact that they usually offer absolutely no nutritional benefits other than calories (energy) and (3) there are successful precedents for applying duties on them in other countries – for example, Finland, France, Hungary and some states in the USA.

Read the '61 organisations call for a sugary drinks duty in Budget 2013' press release

Report contents

Summary

We need a Children’s Future Fund

  •  Our food and farming system is contributing to serious problems
  •  We need money to help tackle these problems
  •  Food duties will generate money and help make good food choices easier
  •  Healthy and sustainable food in the future

Start with improving health

  •  We have a serious problem of obesity, overweight and diet-related illness
    •   The problem of diet-related cancer
    •   The link between diet, obesity and diabetes
    •   The link between sugar and dental health
    •   The link between salt and blood pressure
  •  Diet-related illness is a major burden on our NHS
  •  Junk food is one of the main causes of diet-related illness
  •  The damage to our world caused by sugar

Duties on food can work

  • Duties on tobacco and alcohol save lives
    • Tobacco
    • Alcohol
  •  Evidence that food duties can work
    • Empirical evidence
    • Modelling studies
    • Subsidising good food
  •  There is a long history of food duties in the UK and around the world
  •  Current and future possibilities

Options for applying food duties in the UK

  •  Existing duties in the UK
  •  A traffic light system
  •  A sugary drinks duty
    • The type of duty
    • The size of the duty
    • The type of drinks included
    • The amount of money that could be raised

The multiple benefits of food duties (and one predictable problem)

  •  The most cost-effective health policy
  •  Making our food system fairer
  •  Ring-fencing already happens and is popular
  •  Current taxes on food are a mess
  •  Jobs could be created
  •  Expect an industry backlash

Conclusion and recommendations


Children's Future Fund supporting organisations as at 11 March 2013    

Academy of Culinary Arts Chefs Adopt a School Trust
Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
Association for the Study of Obesity
Association of Teachers and Lecturers
Aynsley-Green Consulting (Former Children's Commissioner for England)
Baby Milk Action
British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry
British Dental Health Foundation
British Dietetic Association
British Society of Dental Hygiene & Therapy
Campaign for Real Farming
Caroline Walker Trust
Centre for Food Policy, City University
Commonwork
Community Composting Network
Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association
Compassion in World Farming
Consensus Action on Salt and Health
Denplan
Dental Fusion Organisation
European Public Health Alliance
Family Farmers' Association
Farms for City Children
Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens
Fife Diet
First Steps Nutrition Trust
Food and Behaviour Research
Food Ethics Council
Food for Life Partnership
Food Matters
Friends of the Earth
Garden Organic
Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome Help
Health Education Trust
Heart of Mersey
Hyperactive Children's Support Group
Institute of Health Visiting
Linking Environment and Farming
National Children's Bureau
National Day Nurseries Association
National Federation of Women's Institutes
National Heart Forum
Netmums
New Economics Foundation
Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke
Organic Research Centre
Permaculture Association
Pesticide Action Network UK
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Royal College of Physicians London
Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh
Royal Society for Public Health
Scottish Cancer Prevention Network
School Food Matters
Soil Association
tfX: the campaign against trans fats in food
Trading Standards Institute
UK Faculty of Public Health
UK Society for Behavioural Medicine (Executive Committee)
UNISON
Waste Watch
Weight Concern
Woodcraft Folk
World Cancer Research Fund
World Public Health Nutrition Association
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms

 

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