George Osborne’s Budget 2016: The Sugar Tax

On 16th March 2016 the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne MP unveiled his Budget for 2016. In this statement Mr Osborne outlined his vision for the British economy over the next 12 months with wider implications affecting the whole country after 2017.

Amongst the 62 minute outline of the entire budget, the flagship measures by Mr Osborne are as follows:

  • Increasing personal tax allowance: raising the threshold as which people start paying income tax from £10,600 currently to £11,500
  • Increasing the 40p tax threshold: the higher tax rate of 40p/£1 earned will start at £45,000, instead of the current £42,385
  • Increase in ISA savings: amount you can now place in an ISA each tax year increases from £15,000 to £20,000
  • Reduction in capital gains tax: capital gains tax on transactions not related to residential property will decrease from 28% to 20%
  • Reduction in welfare: cuts in the Personal Independence Payment for the disabled
  • “Ebay” and “Airbnb” tax break: you will now be able to earn up to £1000 tax free on selling items online or renting out their homes on sharing holiday websites
  • Introduction of the “Sugar Tax”: all soft drinks manufacturers must pay a levy related to sugary drink production
  • Fuel duty frozen
  • All secondary schools to become academies by 2020
  • Reduction in Corporation Tax: from 20% to 17%
  • Changes in alcohol taxation: beer duty frozen, wine duty increases with inflation.

The Soft Drinks Industry Levy also known as the “Sugar Tax” will be consulted for legislation in the Finance Bill 2017 and implemented/enforced from April 2018. This new levy will be paid by any producer or importer of soft drinks that contain added sugar, and its rate/amount depends according to the total sugar content of the product.

Charges made to industry/importers for surgery drinks are designated according to their content, but the exact cost has not been formalised:

  • Drinks containing 5g sugar per 100ml will incur a main rate charge
  • Those with >8g sugar per 100ml will incur a much higher rate

This new levy is designed to encourage producers to reduce sugary content of soft drinks and importers to import lower sugar content products; and ultimately move consumers to lower sugar alternative and reduce portion sizes. If companies use less sugar, they pay less tax.

The Chancellor has forecast revenues of £520 million in year one of the “Sugar Tax” being introduced, this money will be used in a number of areas including: increasing funding of primary and secondary school sports and activities, and improve funding for breakfast clubs for primary school children to ensure they receive a healthy breakfast to start their school day.

It is interesting there is no mention on the use of the “Sugar Tax” funds to increase spending in Dentistry related topics such as, oral health and hygiene advice, fluoride provision/application, and other Dental Public Health measures to improve the oral health of children and adults.