Wednesday 21 November 2018 11:55 am

Sugar tax raises £154m but the government warns more must be done

The sugar tax on soft drinks has raised £153.8m since it came into force in April, the government has said.

The levy was rolled out seven months ago to help tackle childhood obesity, with revenue used to fund physical education in primary schools.

The figure is less than half the original amount estimated when the tax was announced in 2016. Former chancellor George Osborne said the levy would raise roughly £520m.

But this estimate was reduced to £240m as manufacturers adjusted their recipes to ensure their products are below the sugar threshold.

The amount raised to the end of October indicates the government is on track to meet its target for the year.

Exchequer secretary to the Treasury Robert Jenrick said: “Today’s figures show the positive impact the soft drinks levy is having by raising millions of pounds for sports facilities and healthier eating in schools, as well as encouraging manufacturers to cut sugar in over half the drinks found in UK stores.

“Helping our next generation to have a healthy and active childhood is a priority for us, and I’m pleased to see the industry is playing its part.”

The figures come as Public Health England (PHE) chief executive Duncan Selbie warns the government may take further action if more is not done to reduce sugar content.

“Obesity is the pandemic of modern times. Customers are saying they want faster progress from the food industry, and in particular, those businesses that have taken little or no action. We will be publicly reporting on these during 2019,” said Selbie.

The sugar tax’s standard rate is 18p per litre and applies to drinks with a sugar content of between five and eight grams.

The higher rate, for drinks with eight grams of sugar or more, is 24p per litre.