09 March 2017
Local health charity, Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke has welcomed the confirmation in the Budget that the Sugar Tax will go ahead next year, a measure that NICHS has been raising with all the parties in the NI Assembly.
“It is clear that the sugar tax is already working as many soft drinks companies have rushed to reduce sugar levels in their drinks to escape the full force of the levy. As the Chancellor has pointed out this is good news for our children,” commented Neil Johnston, public affairs adviser at NICHS.
“The Chancellor has now confirmed the rates at which the levy will be set and that it will come into force in April 2018, money which we would like to see spent on physical activity in our primary schools.”
Mr Johnston expressed concern that the current political vacuum would hinder efforts to plan how the money from the levy would be best spent.
“It is estimated that the levy will raise at least £400m a year which should mean that Northern Ireland will get over £10m a year. We need to decide how best to spend this money and NICHS are adamant that this money should be spent promoting physical activity in schools.
We conducted opinion polling last year that showed that 82 per cent of people in Northern Ireland believed that this money should be 'ring-fenced' specifically to improve physical activity opportunities in primary schools. It is important that our local politicians sit down soon and plan how best to use this funding when it becomes available next year.”