In the 12 months since the ‘sugar tax’ came into force, producers are expected to have paid an estimated £250 million – money that should be used to help deliver vital public health schemes to improve the next generation’s life chances.
The LGA has said funding could go towards protecting and improving children’s oral health, and providing early years play equipment and activities, while also encouraging healthier eating and exercise. Currently, funding from the levy goes towards school sports and breakfast clubs.
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “In a year since the soft drinks industry levy was introduced, manufacturers have cut the amount of sugar in their products while hundreds of millions of pounds have been raised in revenue. It is vital that the funds raised so far are invested in the best possible way, to ensure that our children get the greatest start in life.
“However, to truly tackle our child obesity epidemic, councils need to be able to use this money to intervene earlier and do more to ensure that our children stay healthy, active and develop good eating habits, which they can continue into adulthood.
“This in turn will lead to less pressure on our already overstretched public services, including the NHS, saving the country much more from obesity-related treatment in future.”
He added: “Councils are uniquely placed to tackle obesity, given their links to local health, community and voluntary services, as well as schools.
“This includes the costs of running the Government’s National Child Measurement Programme in schools, as well as programmes such as weight management services, exercise referral schemes, and offering free or reduced-cost sport.”