Rishi Sunak vetoes Government move to introduce new tax on junk food
- The Chancellor has been put under pressure by colleagues ahead of the Budget
- But Mr Sunak ‘kiboshed’ the idea, fearing it would further hit low-income voters
- Many families steel reeling from introduction of the Health and Social Care Levy
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has vetoed a move by the Government to introduce a new junk-food levy, arguing that voters are already being taxed too heavily.
Mr Sunak has been put under pressure by colleagues and Government officials to impose a tax on foods which are high on sugar or fat in next month’s Budget.
The suggestion is understood to have been made to Treasury Minister Helen Whately as part of a spending bid submitted by officials in Sajid Javid’s Health Department and George Eustice’s Environment Department, with backing from Public Health England.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has vetoed a move by the Government to introduce a new junk-food levy, arguing that voters are already being taxed too heavily
But sources say the Chancellor has ‘kiboshed’ the idea on the grounds that it would further hit lower-income voters, who are still reeling from the introduction of the 1.25 per cent Health and Social Care Levy to tackle the Covid-related backlog of operations and reform long-term care for the elderly.
It will take taxes to their highest sustained level since the Second World War.
Mr Sunak is understood to have argued that evidence from countries which have introduced similar levies showed that the measure had no impact on child obesity.
A source said: ‘Rishi feels that people have had enough of taxes, and that it is a nannyish measure which doesn’t work anyway.’
A Soft Drinks Levy introduced by the Government two years ago charges 24p per litre of drink if it contains 8 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres and 18p per litre of drink if it contains between 5 to 8 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres.
Mr Eustice’s department is developing a National Food Strategy for England which will ‘consider the food chain from field to fork’.
It comes after Mr Sunak played ‘hardball’ with Mr Johnson in negotiations over the Health and Social Care Levy, trying to extract a pledge from the NHS to cut waiting lists to pre-pandemic levels by 2025 as a condition for the hike in National Insurance. His proposal, backed by No 10, was vetoed by Mr Javid.