The new, so-called sugar tax has been a contentious issue since it was first raised. Some, including many doctors and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, have been in support with calls for a tax against sugary drinks since 2014. Others have been hoping PM Theresa May would reverse her position before the due date, since it was first announced.
April 6, 2018, has come and gone however, so the tax is now officially in effect. It’s going to impact individuals and businesses alike, but is it for the better or not? In this article, we take a look at some of the sugar tax pros and cons uk.
The UK Sugar Tax Pros
The most immediately obvious benefit, and that which most would wager, is the primary cause of the tax is the potential improvement of the nation’s health. The UK has a well-publicising obesity epidemic, and many are hoping the tax can reduce sugar consumption; one of the primary causes. Price is a major factor in purchase choices, and the plan is that the sugar tax can act as a deterrent, leading to healthier drink options.
Some even claim that the new tax may be good for growing businesses. With the major drinks producers seeing rising prices in their goods, it could pave more room for the growing market of healthier drinks from newcomers.
What’s more, the increase in price could urge more consumers to become conscious of what, exactly, is in their drinks. The higher price could encourage people to check the nutritional values and ingredients to see why, exactly, the price is raised.
In the UK, drinks are already labelled with how much sugar a drink contributes to their recommended daily allowance. This new tax could further the accessibility of that information to the public at large.
The UK Sugar Tax Cons
The tax has its fair share of detractors, including those addressing the health angle of it. While some argue that a tax on sugar is a discriminatory tax against the obese, others like Heston Blumenthal argue it doesn’t go far enough. There are those who believe all sugars should be taxed, not just sugary drinks.
The drinks industry is another collective of those who believe the taxes are discriminatory. Major drinks manufacturers have claimed that the tax will unfairly harm their profitability, leaving them disadvantaged against competitors. Some have even threatened legal action against the government should the tax pass, but nothing has come of that yet.
Others argue about just how effective the tax will be. There are arguments that a price raise alone won’t curb consumption. With the wider range of other sugary foods available besides soft drinks, some argue the tax won’t have any impact on obesity rates at all.
The Open Question
The tax has supporters and detractors from every side. It might take some time for the data to show whether it has any long-term effects on obesity rates or not. The question also remains as to how it might harm profits from drinks sold, bottled, or made in the UK.
Will it pave a new niche for smaller businesses, or will the loss in profits and proposed legal action by soft drinks companies spell only more trouble? Only time will tell.