Mark Whitehead 27 July 2017

Council chiefs slam ‘perverse’ plans to hijack soft drinks levy

Money from the soft drinks industry intended to promote healthy eating and physical activity in schools is being 'hijacked' to plug a shortfall in education funding, according to council chiefs.

The Local Government Association branded the move 'perverse and counterproductive' and warned it could derail plans to tackle obesity.

In February the Government announced a £415m levy on the soft drinks industry would be invested in facilities to support sports, after-school activities and healthy eating.

But last week the Department for Education said £315m of this budget would be diverted to address school funding shortages.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said: 'It is vital that the soft drinks levy, which marked a significant step in the fight against obesity, is protected.

'Government needs to find genuinely new money to meet its new school funding commitments. It is perverse and counterproductive to simply shift this money around, particularly at the expense of children’s health.

‘We were supportive of the previous Government’s announcement of a soft drinks levy. But we now have grave concerns that the Government is hijacking this money to plug funding shortages elsewhere. It calls into question the original purpose of the levy.

‘This also threatens to derail the childhood obesity plan, where the levy was a major theme.

‘The Government needs to be clear about what this now means for the levy, and for reducing the worrying levels of child obesity in this country.'

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