Sugar tax draft law published

Levy on added-sugar scheduled for April 2018

The chancellor is expected to reveal the levy rate in next year’s budget.

THE UK Government has today (December 5) published draft legislation on a sugar levy scheduled to come into force from April 2018.

Under the proposed legislation, soft drinks producers will pay an additional levy on non–alcoholic beverages containing added sugar at a quantity of five grams per 100ml or greater.

Milk-based drinks and alcohol substitute drinks such as low and no-alcohol beer will remain unaffected by the new legislation.

The draft legislation was produced following a consultation with key stakeholders, which found 95% of medical and health bodies in favour of the levy, while 78% of manufacturers and associated trade bodies were opposed to the move, according to the government.

Westminster said it will announce final levy rates as part of next year’s Budget.

Responding to the publication of the draft legislation, Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association, said there is “no evidence” that a tax on soft drinks will reduce obesity.

“It is ironic that soft drinks are being singled out for tax when we’ve led the way in reducing sugar intake, down over 17% since 2012,” said Partington.

“We’re also the only category to have set a 20% calorie reduction target for 2020.”

Jane Ellison, financial secretary to the Treasury, said the soft drinks levy will form a “central pillar” in the government’s plan to tackle childhood obesity.

“We recognise the work of market-leading companies, and acknowledge the investment costs associated with reformulation work,” said Ellison. “Individual companies’ commitments to recipe changes, portion re-sizing and marketing lower sugar brands in the run-up to April 2018 will all be rewarded through the levy design.”