The U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has announced a new levy on soft drink companies to be assessed “on the volume of sugar- sweetened drinks they produce or import.” In a budget presentation before Parliament, Osborne laid out a two-tiered tax scheme slated to take effect in April 2018, “to give companies plenty of space to change their product mix.”
Under the levy, which exempts milk-based drinks and fruit juices, sugar- sweetened beverages will fall into one band with “a total sugar content above 5 grams per 100 milliliters,” or “a second, higher band for the most sugary drinks with more than 8 grams per 100 milliliters.” The U.K. Office for Budget Responsibility apparently anticipates that the levy will raise an estimated £520 million for increased sport funding in primary schools.
“Many in the soft drinks industry recognize there’s a problem and have started to reformulate their products… So industry can act, and with the right incentives I’m sure it will,” said Osborne during his budget speech.
“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. We knew it caused disease. But we ducked the difficult decisions and we did nothing.’”