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16th Sep 2022

Liz Truss ‘preparing to scrap sugar tax’ on soft drinks

April Curtin

CARDIFF, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 21: Fizzy, sugary drinks on a supermarket shelf on September 21, 2017 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Her new plan has certainly caused a stir

Liz Truss is preparing to scrap the sugar tax on soft drinks, as well as other obesity measures, in an attempt to ease the cost of living crisis.

The Times reports that chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has ordered health officials to reconsider obesity measures “in the context of the cost of living”.

A ban on Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF) promotions on unhealthy food has already been delayed for a year, and is now unlikely to go ahead. The ban on displaying sweets and chocolate at checkouts, which was due to come into force next month, is also unlikely to happen.

Truss had previously spoken out about her plans to scrap anti-obesity measures.

Speaking to the Daily Mail last month, she said: “Those taxes are over. Talking about whether or not somebody should buy a two-for-one offer? No. There is definitely enough of that.

“What people want the Government to be doing is delivering good roads, good rail services, making sure there’s broadband, making sure there’s mobile phone coverage, cutting the NHS waiting lists, helping people get a GP appointment.

“They don’t want the Government telling them what to eat.”

But some have questioned whether the new PM will actually be able to make it happen.

“I’m not sure this will survive contact with reality because it is politically toxic,” one senior Conservative source told The Times. “It’s a piece of culture war rather than a piece of health policy.”

Officials in the government’s public health team, led by chief medical officer Chris Whitty, are said to be appalled by the plan.

And Professor Graham MacGregor from the campaign group Action on Sugar said Truss’s move would be “disastrous” to public health, and the food businesses which have spent lots of time and money preparing for the change in policy.

Meanwhile, siding with Truss’s decision, John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said plans to end BOGOF offers were only going to create further pressure for struggling families amid the cost of living crisis.

“Government cannot expect taxpayers to further tighten their belts and Truss is right to row it back” he added.

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