National Food Strategy calls for £3bn salt and sugar tax

The Government should introduce a £3/kg tax on sugar and a £6/kg on salt sold for use in processed foods or in restaurants and catering businesses to improve the UK's diet, an independent review recommends.

The National Food Strategy claims that such a plan would reduce the average calories eaten per person per day by 15-38kcal to halt weight gain at a population level, while raising £2.9 billion-£3.4bn for the Treasury.

It added that there is a precedent for a salt and sugar tax with one poll finding that 63% of people in the UK would like the sugary drinks levy to be expanded to include sugary foods like sweets and biscuits.

While the National Food Strategy stresses that its policy idea is intended to encourage reformulation of how manufacturers prepare food, it admitted that the tax could push up the price of some products, especially those that are made almost entirely of sugar like jam and honey.

The neoliberal think tank Adam Smith Institute said the tax would cost households an extra £172 a year.

The National Food Strategy, therefore, is also proposing measures to get fresh food and ingredients to low-income households with children, with measures like an expansion of free school meals and the holiday activities and food programme, costing around £1.1bn.

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