RSPH has welcomed details of the government’s sugar levy, announced as part of the Spring Budget by Chancellor Phillip Hammond, who has confirmed that:

  • The higher and lower bands of the levy, to take effect in April 2018, will be set at 18p and 24p per litre respectively, as originally proposed and in line with the 10-20% levy previously recommended by Public Health England
  • Thanks to reformulation already being instigated by manufacturers in response to the planned levy, the Treasury has revised down its estimated revenue. However, it will still deliver the full funding originally promised to the Department of Education for school sports and health living programmes

The Chancellor also set out details of funding to support businesses affected by changes to business rates (revenues from which will soon become the sole source of funding for local authority public health services), and confirmed there will be no new increases in alcohol or tobacco duties.

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive, RSPH, said: “We are delighted that, as shown by the downgrading of the Treasury’s revenue expectations, the sugar levy is already working to spur reformulation of sugary drinks by manufacturers. This is a crucial development for the health of our children, who receive the highest proportion of their added sugar intake from such drinks.

“We are doubly delighted that, despite the reduction of forecast revenue from the levy, the government has maintained its commitment to the full funding already promised to schools for sports and healthy living programmes. Schools have an important role to play in giving all our children a healthy and active start in life, and it is encouraging to see the government giving them this backing.

“In announcing financial support for businesses adversely affected by changes to business rates, the Chancellor touched on another potential lever for improving the health of our communities. We are extremely keen that, in the application of any such support, health-promoting businesses (such as fitness facilities and healthy food shops) are prioritised and incentivised, in preference to those which may have a detrimental effect on the health of local people (such as pay day lenders and junk food outlets).”