Sugar tax raises £154MILLION in six months after the Government slapped a 24p-a-litre charge on soft drinks
- A levy of between 18p and 24p per litre on sugary drinks came into force in April
- Some 457 companies are subject to the law, which has raised £153.8m already
- The sugar tax was introduced to fight childhood obesity, which is on the rise
The UK’s sugar tax has raised almost £154million in its first six months, Government figures have revealed.
From April, companies selling drinks with added sugar have been taxed between 18p and 24p per litre for certain drinks containing high levels of added sugar.
The new levy was introduced in an effort to fight childhood obesity, as more than a third of 11-year-olds in the UK are now overweight and soft drinks are one of their main sources of sugar.
Raising so much money from the tax was ‘encouraging’, one expert said, but they urged the Government to extend the levy to calories in sweets as well.
The sugar tax has been brought in by the UK Government as a measure to try and reduce childhood obesity, with experts warning soft drinks are a major source of excess sugar
Revenue and Customs figures have revealed the Soft Drinks Industry Levy raised a total of £153.8million between April and October.
There are 457 companies registered to pay the tax, and more than 90 per cent of the money came from charges on drinks with higher levels of sugar.
Drinks containing between five and eight grams of sugar per 100ml are now taxed at 18p per litre – the standard rate – whereas those containing more than eight grams per 100ml have to pay 24p per litre.
HOW MUCH SUGAR IS TOO MUCH?
The amount of sugar a person should eat in a day depends on how old they are.
Children aged four to six years old should be limited to a maximum of 19 grams per day.
Seven to 10-year-olds should have no more than 24 grams, and children aged 11 and over should have 30g or less.
Popular snacks contain a surprising amount of sugar and even a single can of Coca Cola (35g of sugar) or one Mars bar (33g) contains more than the maximum amount of sugar a child should have over a whole day.
A bowl of Frosties contains 24g of sugar, meaning a 10-year-old who has Frosties for breakfast has probably reached their limit for the day before they even leave the house.
Children who eat too much sugar risk damaging their teeth, putting on fat and becoming overweight, and getting type 2 diabetes which increases the risk of heart disease and cancer.
This has led to some products, such as Lucozade, Fanta, Sprite and Vimto changing their recipes so they contain less than five grams of sugar and avoid the tax.
While others, including Coca Cola and Pepsi, refused to change the recipe so pay the higher level of tax, meaning the price of the drinks has increased.
The Government says the money will be invested in sports clubs and breakfast clubs at schools around the country.
Kawther Hashem, a nutritionist at Action on Sugar said: ‘Whilst it’s encouraging to see that the soft drink industry levy has raised such revenue, the government must now introduce an energy density levy on confectionery too.
‘Setting a levy to a minimum of 20 per cent on all sweet and chocolate confectionery produced by manufacturers and retailers (and also those sold in cafés and restaurants) will provide an opportunity to reformulate based not on sugar content, but on overall energy-density of products.’
Fruit juice and milk-based drinks are currently not included under the sugar tax, but this could change in the future.
Dr Linda Greenwall, founder of the Dental Wellness Trust added: ‘Whilst we welcome the news, it’s imperative that some of this revenue is invested in supervised tooth-brushing and oral health education programmes for school children.
‘Tooth decay is now at a record high, largely because food and drink products are packed with unnecessary sugar.
‘More youngsters are being admitted to hospital to have their teeth extracted at a cost of more than £36million to the NHS and the government must now act responsibly.’
The money raised by the tax has been revealed in the same week Public Health England warned many food producers in the UK are not doing enough to cut levels of sugar in their food.
PHE said it would call for more laws like the sugar tax if businesses – including restaurants and takeaways – don’t get healthier.
And 90 per cent of people want the Government to require food to have less sugar and fewer calories, a survey showed.
Many agreed food producers and individuals should share the responsibility for tackling obesity.
Chief nutritionist at PHE, Dr Alison Tedstone said: ‘Severe obesity in 10 to 11-year-olds is at an all-time high.
‘Plans to improve the nation’s diet are often described as “nanny state” interference, but it’s clear people want healthier food and they expect the industry to play their full part in this.’
Obesity is a growing problem in the UK, with more than a quarter of adults and more than 111,000 children of primary school leaving age – one in five – are obese.
Being seriously overweight puts people at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke.
Experts predict nearly a quarter of the entire population of the world will be obese by 2045, with 48 per cent of Brits dangerously heavy.
WHAT IS THE SUGAR TAX?
From April 2018, soft drinks companies have been required to pay a levy on drinks with added sugar.
If a drink contains between 5g and 8g of sugar per 100ml the tax is 18p per litre, whereas if a drink has more than 8g of sugar per 100ml, the tax is 24p.
Fruit juices and milk are not included in the tax.
The move aims to help tackle childhood obesity. Sugar-sweetened soft drinks are now the single biggest source of dietary sugar for children and teenagers.
Some drinks, including Fanta, Lucozade, Sprite, Dr Pepper and Vimto, had their recipes changed so they contained less than 5g of sugar and the price did not need to be put up.
However, others like Coca Cola and Pepsi refused to reduce the amount of sugar and, as a result, the price of them increased.
The Government has predicted the levy will raise £240million a year, which will be spent on sports clubs and breakfast clubs in schools.
The sugar tax raised £153.8m in the first six months after it was introduced, between April and October 2018.