Sugar tax

The sugar tax is only a ‘success’ if you ignore the evidence

They say no news is good news, but what to make of old news? Today’s papers (including this front page) feature rather boastful headlines about the success of the sugar tax (a levy on soft drinks companies concocted by former chancellor George Osborne, with the stated aim of tackling obesity). The i reports that the levy has “revolutionised the industry, with the average beverage now 28 per cent less sugary than before the tax was introduced,” according to a new study from researchers at Oxford University. But is the sugar tax really something to celebrate? While the study may be ‘new’, the figures are not. They were published by Public Health England last September, which noted that

Hancock given hard time over sugar tax and social care

On the subject of MPs who hope Boris Johnson might give them a job, Matt Hancock was before the Health Select Committee this afternoon, where he ended up taking a fair bit of flak for what the current government hasn’t done, and what the next administration might do. After his own failed leadership bid, the Health and Social Care Secretary backed Johnson, which made for a very awkward section in today’s hearing about the sugar tax. Hancock was repeatedly pressed on Johnson’s pledge to review ‘sin taxes’, including the one on sugary drinks, and he repeatedly answered that the most important thing was to look at the evidence behind the

Letters | 28 September 2017

Fight and fight again Sir: In her Florence speech, Theresa May yet again declared that: ‘No deal is better than a bad deal.’ Yet in his piece ‘Brexit Wars’ (23 September), James Forsyth claims that minimal planning is being made for a ‘no deal’ under WTO rules. If true, this is insulting to the electorate as it means that the Prime Minister is being neither serious nor truthful. It is inexcusable for our civil service not to prepare for an event that is a clear possibility when it would be catastrophic if we had no plan. Couldn’t the 80 MPs in the Tory Research Group start preparing for a WTO

Letters | 21 September 2017

Christians betrayed Sir: Michael Karam’s article (Ya Allah!, 16 September) is timely. Many Westerners seem to be unaware that there is such a person as a Christian Arab (a Christian who speaks Arabic as their first language), yet there are millions. At the time of the Crusades, Christians were a majority in the Near East. In 1914 about 25 per cent of the Near and Middle East was still Christian. The percentage is now much lower because events have forced massive Christian emigration, especially to North America. The serious consequences of this ignorance were not only felt by the Christian Iraqi removed from a flight after another passenger heard him

The fat tax fallacy

James Cracknell, the athlete turned anti-obesity campaigner, was the subject of sniggering and derision in April when he said that North Korea and Cuba had got a ‘handle on obesity’. With impressive understatement, he attributed this to both countries being ‘quite controlling on behavioural trends’. It was a bad point poorly made, but in a roundabout way he drew attention to the major obstacles faced by those who want to reduce obesity rates in the rest of the world: freedom and affluence. Only Venezuela was missing from his list. Its people lost an average of 19 pounds last year as its basket-case economy unravelled, but this only serves to underline

David Cameron’s larynx comes to his defence on childhood obesity

Theresa May was once seen as the continuity candidate to succeed David Cameron. However, since becoming Prime Minister she has gone on to sideline or backtrack many of Cameron and George Osborne’s pet projects. As well as delaying Hinkley Point and leaving the Northern Powerhouse’s future up in the air, she has provoked anger this week over the Government’s childhood obesity strategy. While Cameron made clear that childhood obesity would be a flagship issue for his government — with Jeremy Hunt even promising to take draconian measures — May appears to take a different approach. In the report — pushed out in recess — May has scrapped plans to curb junk food

10 reasons why the sugar tax is a terrible idea

It will hit Consumers: The tax is designed to be levied on soft drinks companies, based on the volume of sugar-sweetened drinks they import of export. But the independent economic forecaster, the Office of Budgetary Responsibility, states the costs of the levy will be ‘passed entirely onto the price paid by consumers’. That means it will be the public, not soft drinks companies that end up paying the costs of the new tax. It will actually cost the Treasury money: The levy is expected to raise a maximum of £520 million per year. However, because the levy pushes up inflation, the British Government will be hit with a £1 billion

Why George Osborne’s sugar tax isn’t a ‘pious, regressive absurdity’

George Osborne’s announcement in the Budget that he wants to help fight childhood obesity through a tax on sugary drinks has provoked the usual grumbles. But this is not a ‘pious, regressive absurdity’, as some claim. It is practical action that will help to tackle an avoidable health disaster for the nation’s children, a quarter of whom from the most disadvantaged families are leaving primary school not just overweight but obese. This is double the rate for the most advantaged children and the inequality gap is rising every year. If that had no consequences for them, there would be no case for action, but obesity blights their future health and life chances.

Osborne’s new sugar tax is a tax on the poor

The fat man of Europe is getting fatter. His teeth are rotting from the sugar in his coke and chocolates. He feeds his children bread and pasta instead of quinoa and couscous. It is time to tax the fat man – he must learn to stop eating sugar. And today, George Osborne has acted. In his Budget, he noted with disgust that some boys eat their own body weight in sugar. He has introduced a tax on sugary drinks – to the applause of the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and (doubtless) Jamie Oliver who pioneered this snobbish idea in his restaurants. This can be expected to be the first of many. The path

Lloyd Evans

Budget Sketch: George Osborne finally dropped the conservative pretence

[audioplayer src=”″ title=”Fraser Nelson, Isabel Hardman and James Forsyth discuss the Budget”] Listen [/audioplayer]If George Osborne was ever a conservative he dropped the pretence today. The chancellor sounded risibly pompous as he declared his plan to impose a slimming regime on Britain’s heaving population of wobble-bottoms. A levy on fizzy pop will arrive in 2018. Even before he’d explained the rationale behind his Weightwatcher’s initiative he’d sabotaged it by exempting ‘milk-based drinks’. But a tax on pop already carries innumerable loop-holes in the form of doughnuts, choccie bicccies, Jammy Dodgers and cream puffs. The intellectual basis of this self-congratulatory exercise is the assumption that Britain’s much-maligned chubsters are a) too

James Forsyth

Budget 2016: George Osborne played a difficult hand well

[audioplayer src=”″ title=”Fraser Nelson, Isabel Hardman and James Forsyth discuss today’s Budget”] Listen [/audioplayer]George Osborne played a difficult hand well in this Budget. Hemmed in by the worsening fiscal forecasts and the political limitations that the EU Referendum imposes on the government, he delivered a Budget that included some clever politics even if it won’t live long in the memory. The biggest story of the day is the OBR’s view that the productive potential of the UK economy is significantly lower than it previously thought. If that judgement is correct, it will have serious, long term implications for the country and the public finances. But Osborne’s sugar levy on fizzy


Watch: George Osborne’s former chief of staff drops the Chancellor in it over sugar tax stunt

Of all the pledges in George Osborne’s budget announcement today, the most surprising appeared to be that of the sugar tax. As the tax was unexpected — given that it has been heavily disputed in the past — it will likely get top billing in the Budget coverage in tomorrow’s papers. So, could there be more than meets the eye to the announcement? Given that there was plenty of bad economic news in the Budget — with growth down and extra cuts announced — the sugar tax conveniently distracts from some of the more negative news. While Mr S can’t claim to be one of Osborne’s closest confidantes, happily one such man appeared on the BBC

There’s nothing sweet about Boris Johnson’s sugar tax

That’s it. The nanny state has won. The nudgers and naggers are victorious. The buzzkilling, behaviour-policing new elite that sees smoking as sinful, boozing as lethal and being podgy as immoral has conquered the political sphere. Its miserabilist writ now extends even into a political zone where once it held no sway: Boris Johnson’s brain. Yes, the once nanny-slating mind that lurks beneath that world-famous mop of self-consciously untidy blonde hair has sadly succumbed to the instinct to harangue people for being fat and having fun. Yesterday Boris announced that he is introducing a sugar tax at City Hall, hiking up the price of all sugar-added soft drinks by 10p

Barometer | 29 October 2015

Killer facts The World Health Organisation added processed meats to its list of ‘known’ carcinogens. A few of the other things which have been claimed to be linked to cancer in the past fortnight: — Make-up in Halloween outfits (blamed by a laser surgery centre in New York) — Chocolate (blamed by a colorectal surgeon at St George’s Hospital, Tooting) — Deodorants (tabloid article — no source given) — Hormone-replacement therapy (tabloid article — no source given) — ‘Roundup’ herbicide (named in US lawsuit) — Sand used in fracking, which is to say, sand (Friends of the Earth) — Nail polish (tabloid article — no source given) — Shampoo (US

Bernard Jenkin: a sugar tax would help soften tax credits blow

George Osborne and the government are apparently in ‘listening mode’ about tax credits and Bernard Jenkin has something to say. The Tory chair of the Public Administration select committee has a novel proposition for how to fund a way to soften the blow of the cuts. In my piece for Politico Europe today, Jenkin tells me: ‘I think Osborne should carry on with the cuts but ameliorate the introduction for those worst affected. It would show he is listening and compassionate If he needs the extra revenue and cannot find other short-term savings, he should be considering the Sugar Tax.’ The idea of a tax on sugary foods and drinks has been advocated

A sugar tax would be (another) tax on the poor

The fat man of Europe is getting fatter. His teeth are rotting from the sugar in his coke and chocolates. He feeds his children bread and pasta instead of quinoa and couscous. It is time to tax the fat man – he must learn to stop eating sugar. And in a long-awaited report, Public Health England has proposed a tax of up to 20 per cent on soft drinks and similarly sugary products – just like that proposed by the BMA. It finds that:- “A recently introduced 10 per cent tax on sugary drinks in Mexico has seen an average 6 per cent decline in purchases in the first few months”. Jamie Oliver

Barometer | 16 July 2015

Ties that bind Lewis Hamilton was ejected from the royal box at Wimbledon for not wearing a tie. Some places he would have been welcome: — In 99 out of 100 of the most expensive restaurants surveyed in 2010. — For four evenings a week on a Cunard cruise (he would need a tie after 6 p.m. on the other three). — Driving a cab in Dubai (ties are no longer compulsory after a customer pulled one driver’s). And some places he wouldn’t: — Visiting Lloyds of London. — Competition days at Knebworth Golf Club (though socks are not usually compulsory). — Bicester Community College (ties compulsory for pupils from September).

A sugar tax is simply a tax on the poor

Why is it that whenever anyone proposes a tax on the wealthy all hell breaks loose, but when someone proposes a tax on the poor there is no more than a faint whimper of protest? Yesterday, life sciences minister George Freeman, speaking at the Hay Festival, floated the idea of a sugar tax. In contrast to Labour’s mansion tax or the removal of tax privileges for non-doms, my email inbox was not immediately jammed with statements from upmarket estate agents, accountants and others representing the interests of the rich warning of how it would ruin the economy. It is fairly obvious who will pay the sugar tax: it would be