Former Chancellor George Osborne announced in his March budget that from 2018 drinks companies would have to pay a tax based on the amount of sugar per 100ml of liquid.
Now the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) are among those backing the ‘Face The Facts, Can The Tax’ campaign, which warns that the levy could wipe £132m from UK GDP.
It follows a study from thinktank Oxford Economics published last month which claimed that the tax would reduce soft drink sales by 1.6 per cent, leading to more than 4,000 job losses across the UK food and drink industry.
Though the levy will be used to fund sport in schools, Oxford Economics has warned that the plans will cut just five calories a day from diets while leaving hospitality firms facing ‘significant losses’.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), said the tax would be a ‘burden’ on pubs and lead to price rises.
Restaurants including Leon, Abokado and Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian chain have already introduced a voluntary 10p tax on sugary drinks following a campaign by the celebrity chef.
But the wider industry has opposed the plans, with the ALMR warning that the tax is ‘unlikely to promote healthy attitudes’.
“The Government’s tax on sugary drinks is intended to tackle public obesity but there is a danger it will do little more than increase costs for both retailers and customers,” said an ALMR spokesperson.
“For the majority of customers, eating-out is an occasional treat and pubs and restaurants have worked hard to reformulate menus, reduce calories and provide customers with greater choice and nutritional information.
“These are part of ongoing efforts by the sector to help address health concerns and promote responsible consumption. If the Government is looking to tackle obesity then promotion of these schemes, rather than additional costs, would be helpful.”
The Government’s childhood obesity strategy was originally expected to launch last December, but has been delayed until this year.