Yesterday’s budget news revealed a surprise – the announcement of a tax on sugary drinks.
A surprise because the Government had not previously revealed any enthusiasm for such a tax. More educated commentators and politicians than I have noted that the chancellor George Osborne may well have brought in such a headline move to disguise other less popular cuts, such as the loss of personal independence payments for people with disabilities, cuts in corporation tax and taxes for the very wealthy.
The tax on sugary drinks is due to be introduced in April 2018. It’s expected to be two-tier approach with drinks that contain 5g of sugar per 100ml taxed at one rate and those containing 8g of sugar per 100ml taxed at higher rate. There are 35g of sugar in a 330ml can of Coke for instance.
Doctors, the NHS England boss, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and health charities were among those welcoming the budget surprise. France, Finland, Mexico and Hungary already tax sugary drinks and sales in Mexico have fallen by 12 percent since the country introduced a surcharge of 12 percent in 2014.
There is one issue – some type 1 diabetics and other diabetics who use insulin to treat their condition consume sugary drinks when they are hypo – i.e their blood sugar levels are too low and they need something that will bring those blood sugar levels up very quickly. Diabetes UK has said it will be involved in the consultation about how tax on sugary drinks can be introduced to raise this concern so that it does not impact negatively on the way people with diabetes treat their condition.