Extend the sugar tax?

Health secretary Matt Hancock calls it a "total triumph"

The Guardian

'Sin taxes': Boris Johnson vows to review sugar levy

Boris Johnson has announced a wide-ranging review of "sin stealth taxes" just days before his high-profile supporter Matt Hancock, the health secretary, is due to publish a green paper advocating extending the sugar tax to milkshakes.

Hunt and Johnson rule out abortion reform in Northern Ireland

The policy green paper called Advancing our Health - Prevention in the 2020s, has been circulating among cabinet ministers this week and is due to be published in the next few days.

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Should the government extend the sugar tax?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

The sugar tax has been in place for over a year now - but is the policy to combat sugar content in soft drinks working?

The levy has been lauded as a "total triumph" by the health secretary.

However, Boris Johnson has previously aired his scepticism about the sugar tax, saying it could hurt poorer people.

The Claim

Matt Hancock argues that the sugar tax, introduced by the government in April 2018, has been a "total triumph", The Sun reports.

The health secretary said that it is his "gut feeling" that the sugar tax is working. He said that the levy has slashed the amount of sugar in many soft drinks.

Speaking at a fringe event during the Tory Party conference in Manchester, Hancock said: "These sugary drinks are not good for you and people just do not understand the negative impact they can have.

"We’ve got to tax something, so taxing something that is actively bad for you and drives up my costs in the NHS.

"Let's tax those things rather than good things, like the amount of work that people do like in income tax."

The Counterclaim

However, this could put the health secretary on a collision course with the prime minister.

When Johnson was running for Tory leader in July, he discussed the sugar tax, arguing that it disproportionately affected poorer families.

He promised a wide-ranging review of "sin stealth taxes", saying he would "take a proper look at the continuing creep of the nanny state", the Guardian reports.

He said: "The recent proposal for a tax on milkshakes seems to me to clobber those who can least afford it.

"If we want people to lose weight and live healthier lifestyles, we should encourage people to walk, cycle and generally do more exercise.

"Rather than just taxing people more, we should look at how effective the so-called ‘sin taxes’ really are, and if they actually change behaviour."

The Facts

The government introduced a sugar levy of 24p a litre on high-sugar drinks (if a drink contains eight grams of sugar per 100ml) and 18p for medium-sugar ones (between five and eight grams of sugar per 100ml) in 2018.

Pure fruit juices and milk-based drinks are exempt from the sugar tax.

The UK joined more than a dozen countries and several American states in introducing a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks.

According to the Independent, in Chile, Mexico, the United States and the UK, sugar taxes have resulted in the lowered consumption of sugary drinks.

It has resulted in some brands - such as Fanta, Ribena and Irn Bru - changing their recipe, lowering the sugar content. However, others, like Coca Cola Classic, have upped their prices in response.

The BBC reports that, on average, 100ml of sugary drinks now contain nearly 29 per cent less sugar than in 2015. That's the equivalent of more than 30,000 tonnes less sugar - or five billion fewer calories - being sold in those drinks each year.

The sugar tax on soft drinks has also raised £153.8 million since it was introduced in April last year - and it is set to raise £240 million for the full year.

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The Sun

Hancock's rift with PM widens as Health Secretary backs extending sugar tax

MATT Hancock's rift with Boris Johnson widened as the Health Secretary backed extending the sugar tax.

The PM has threatened to axe the levy on fizzy drinks because it clobbers poor Brits the most.

But in an astonishing challenge to his boss, Mr Hancock said the sugar tax "has been a total triumph".

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