The NFRN is dismayed that the government confirmed yesterday (Monday December 5) that it will go-ahead with plans to introduce a sugar levy on soft drinks with a high sugar content. The levy will be put forward through the Finance Bill 2017 and the NFRN understands that the rates of the levy will be published at the Spring Budget.

Responding to HMRC’s consultation on the sugar levy earlier this year, the NFRN strongly urged the government to can the plans and to focus instead on education and self-regulation to change consumer behaviour.

The NFRN warned that a soft drinks tax would negatively hit local shops and pubs across the nation, potentially costing retailers £8,100 per year in sales. In addition, figures released earlier this year showed that a soft drinks tax would lead to over 4,000 job losses and a £132 million decline in UK GDP.

Responding to the announcement, NFRN Chief Executive Paul Baxter stated: “The government’s decision to push ahead with this ill conceived plan will do nothing to tackle the real challenge of childhood obesity, while doing enormous damage to the independent retail sector.

“The Chancellor should use the time until the March 2017 budget to put together a plan to genuinely tackle the obesity problem that politicians and independent retailers can support.”

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