In 2020-21, the Soft Drinks Industry Levy is forecast to raise £340 million, but the new Spending Round announcement fails to confirm any commitment to ring-fence this income for spending on programmes to improve children’s health and food.
Children’s Food Campaign Co-ordinator Barbara Crowther says,
“We’re profoundly disappointed not to get a clear reassurance from the Chancellor today that the levy on sugary drinks would continue to deliver a direct dividend for children’s health. The tax has proved invaluable for schools and public health bodies since April 2018. It has channelled £12 million a year into a National School Breakfast Programme which today fed 280,000 children, as well as holiday food provision programmes for vulnerable children and the £100m Healthy Pupils Capital Fund that operated in 2018/19."
The Children’s Food Campaign, along with Jamie Oliver and the Obesity Health Alliance, was at the forefront of the campaign to introduce the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, and to advocate for income raised to be used to tackle child obesity. The Levy’s introduction in April 2018 is widely seen as one of the flagship successes in the Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan. It has already removed an estimated 90 million kilogrammes of sugar from soft drinks since it was first announced, as companies reformulated drinks in order to reduce the amount they would have to pay. In May 2018, Public Health England announced that sugar in soft drinks had fallen by 11% compared to just 2% average for other product categories covered by the voluntary sugar reduction programme.
In March 2019, the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast that income of £345 million from the levy in the current 2019/20 fiscal year, and a further total income of £1.37 billion over the following four years to 2023.
Barbara Crowther says,
“The Soft Drinks Industry Levy is a unique type of tax designed to support plans on child obesity, not to mention generate a very significant amount of money. The companies paying the levy, and the general public, rightly expect it to be used to improve children’s health. We have consistently been told by government officials that the Spending Round was the mechanism by which any further ring-fencing of an amount equivalent to the levy income would be confirmed, and will be continuing to argue for forthcoming Budgets to deliver on the government's promise make this money work for children's health."
Children's Food Campaign
Children's Food Campaign: Better food and food teaching for children in schools, and protection of children from junk food marketing are the aims of Sustain's high-profile Children's Food Campaign. We also want clear food labelling that can be understood by everyone, including children.
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