Sugar tax on soft drinks 'will put 4000 jobs at risk'

They include British Soft Drinks Association, the British Beer & Pub Association and the Federation of Wholesale Distributors among others.

A new report by Oxford Economics has revealed that the soft drinks tax proposed by the UK Government in this year's budget risks more than 4,000 jobs across the country.

Professor Jane Dacre, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: "I am disappointed that after such a long wait for the childhood obesity strategy, the Government has published a downgraded plan that fails to address key issues such as marketing and promotion of sugar-filled and unhealthy foods to children". The UK's new prime minister, Theresa May, has remained relatively quiet on whether it would go ahead.

Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association, which is providing the funding for the campaign, said: "We absolutely agree with the government that obesity levels are too high and action is needed, but burdening businesses and consumers with an ineffective tax is not the answer".

"We know from the evidence around the world where they've tried a tax that it will not make a difference to obesity".

James Bielby, chief executive, Federation of Wholesale Distributors warned, "Introducing a levy on soft drinks in the United Kingdom creates a new opportunity for unscrupulous importers to bring tax-avoided products into that supply chain".

"Companies have two years before the levy comes into force to adapt, and it's created to encourage them to reformulate their products so there is less added sugar in soft drinks". Since 2012 this has led to a 16% reduction in sugar intake from soft drinks.

A tax on sugary drinks is scheduled to come into effect in 2018.

She added: "Those efforts are ongoing, as part of the sector's wider promotion of responsible consumption. An additional cost burden is unlikely to help in this regard".

In terms of the sales, the report also claims that the tax can negatively impact sales by 1.6% and can reduce £132m ($170.5m) of soft drink industry's contribution to the GDP. Research predicts that a United Kingdom sugary drinks tax would result in £300 million direct savings to the NHS, and significant increased quality of life, and thus economic productivity, for hundreds of thousands of people.

"The Government's tax on sugary drinks is meant to tackle public obesity but there is a danger it will do little more than increase costs for both retailers and customers", said an ALMR spokesperson.

Jonathan Hart, chief executive of the Automatic Vending Association, added another discounting voice.

The Local Government Association's community wellbeing chief Izzi Seccombe said: "We have called for fundamental reforms, such as a mandatory reduction of sugar in soft drinks, better sugar labelling on food and drink products, calorie counts on menus in chain restaurants, and for councils to be given powers to ban junk food advertising near schools".

Drinks with 5g of sugar per 100ml will face a lower rate of tax while those with more than 8g per 100ml will face a higher rate.



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