Fiscal fizz is less sweet

One year on, Ben Reynolds explores the impact of the high-profile “sugar tax”, and where it might go in future.

I remember the moment, when two years into running a campaign calling for a children’s health fund linked to a sugary drinks tax, I got a call from our colleagues in Jamie Oliver’s team. It was budget day, spring 2016. They had just received a tip off from within government that the budget would include a Soft Drinks Industry Levy. Cue popping of (non-sweetened) bubbly.

It felt very weird celebrating something that on one hand was essentially a tax, but was on the other, one of the most concrete pieces of legislation we have managed to secure, before or since, to reduce the food system’s impact in the UK – in this case on our health. And I won’t labour the case, already well made on the need, particularly amongst children, to reduce consumption of sugary drinks. This is well documented by Sugar Smart, the Obesity Health Alliance, and the government’s own body Public Health England (PHE) amongst others.

The subsequent Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) has, as fiscal measures go, proved relatively popular, clocking 69% public support in an Ipsos MORI poll a few months before adoption. Much of the money due to be raised was promised

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Ben Reynolds

Ben Reynolds is Deputy CEO of Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, where he has worked since 2004. During this time he has helped establish the Sustainable Food …

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