UK Finance Minister George Osborne announced on Wednesday that the government is expected to introduce a tax on sugary drinks within two years to check the problem of obesity. The decision has not gone down well with drink makers but was welcomed by health campaigners.
The announcement came only months after the government dismissed possibilities of imposing a sugar levy. Osborne said that the tax, which will be levied on the companies and according to the sugar content of the drink, will raise £500 million (AU$944.64 million) annually.
“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,” the News.com.au quoted Osborne as saying.
Britain is not the first country to think of introducing such a tax. France, Belgium, Hungary, and Mexico, along with the Scandinavian countries have imposed some form of taxes on drinks to control its sugar content.
Osborne added that the health hazards caused due to obesity cost the economy £27 billion (AU$50.52 billion) per year, which was a huge liability on the state-funded National Health Service.
“Five-year-old children are consuming their body weight in sugar every year,” he said. “Experts predict that within a generation over half of all boys and 70 percent of girls could be overweight or obese.”
The tax will be applicable to drinks which have a sugar content higher than 5 grams per 100ml. The slab will increase as per the content of the sugar above this level. Drinks containing 8 grams sugar per 100ml will be considered under a higher band.
The BBC reported that the drinks which will come under the higher rate of sugar tax include Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Lucozade Energy and Irn-Bru, according to the treasury. While, Fanta, Dr, Pepper, Sprite, Schweppes etc will fall under the lower slab.