After learning of the Conservative government’s surprise move to introduce a sugar levy on soft drinks in the UK from 2018, Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver – a long-time campaigner for a sugar tax – posted an online video and urged other nations including Australia, Canada and Germany to follow suit.
Oliver commented on social media: “The food revolution is underway. This feels like a victory for Britain’s children and for everyone who has campaigned so hard for a tax on sugary sweetened drinks. I would love the money to go to food education as well as sport but I think we have to applaud the Chancellor for taking this extremely important, bold step. I hope that this bravery will continue to form a part of this Government’s attitude to dealing with obesity and will influence the Prime Minister’s Childhood Obesity strategy later in the year.”
Chancellor George Osborne made the announcement in Wednesday’s budget, in which other so-called “sin taxes”, including the excise on beer, whiskey and cider, were all frozen. Osborne said the tax increase, which the government ruled out as recently as February, was being introduced to improve children’s health. “I am not prepared to look back at my time here in this Parliament, doing this job and say to my children’s generation… I’m sorry. We knew there was a problem with sugary drinks. We knew it caused disease. But we ducked the difficult decisions and we did nothing,” he told the House of Commons.
Britain’s sugar-levy will begin in 2018. The government hopes this will give manufacturers time to reduce the amount of sugar in their drinks. The sugar tax will be limited to soft-drinks and not other sugary foods like lollies.
Drinks with more than 8 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres will be taxed at a higher rate than drinks with less than 5 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres.
“Pure fruit juices” and milkshakes will not be subject to the sugar-levy.