Sugar tax raises a sweet €24. 2 million for government

By June Shannon Policy News   |   1st May 2019

The sugar sweetened drinks tax raised almost €25 million since its introduction 12 months ago

Today (Wednesday 01 May 2019) marks the first anniversary of the introduction of the sugar sweetened drinks tax (SSD) in Ireland and latest figures (to the end of March 2019) show that it has raised a sweet €24.2 million in revenue.

According to the latest figures from the Department of Finance, the SSD yielded a total of €7.7 million in the first three months of 2019. Just €0.6 million was raised in January but this jumped significantly to €5.9 million in February and dropped again to €1.2 million in March.

In 2018 a total of €16.5 million was collected from the SSD tax, giving a total revenue of €24.2 million to the end of March 2019.

The SSD tax was introduced in Ireland on 01 May 2018 and it applied a 30 cent per litre tax on drinks with more than 8g of sugar per 100ml and a 20 cent per litre tax on drinks with between 5 and 8g of sugar per 100ml.

In the UK the SSD tax raised GBP153.8 million or €172.5 million from when it was first introduced in April 2018 to the end of October 2018. Revenue collected from the levy in the UK will help fund physical education activities in primary schools, the Healthy Pupils Capital Fund and provide a funding boost for breakfast clubs in more than 1,700 schools.

“It has taken a massive amount of sugar out of children’s diets through the double whammy of incentivising manufacturers to reduce the sugar content of drinks on one hand while also reducing consumption through higher prices,”

Mr Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy, The Irish Heart Foundation

The Irish Heart Foundation has long called for a portion of the proceeds from the SSD tax to be ring-fenced to fund measures to prevent childhood obesity in Ireland.

The World Obesity Federation has estimated that by 2025, 241,000 schoolchildren in Ireland will be overweight or obese. As many as 9,000 children are predicted to have impaired glucose intolerance; 2,000 will have type 2 diabetes; 19,000 will have high blood pressure; and 27,000 will have first stage fatty liver disease.

However, the Department of Finance has said that hypothecation (the dedication of a specific tax for a particular expenditure purpose) was not a feature of the Irish tax system as it reduced the flexibility of the Government to prioritise and allocate funds as necessary at a particular time.

Commenting Mr Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy at the Irish Heart Foundation said the sugar sweetened drinks tax has been “an unqualified success” and he reiterated the call for some of the proceeds to be ringfenced to tackle childhood obesity.

“It has taken a massive amount of sugar out of children’s diets through the double whammy of incentivising manufacturers to reduce the sugar content of drinks on one hand while also reducing consumption through higher prices.”

“It should now be extended to milk-based drinks, while the impact of the tax could also be magnified by ringfencing the proceeds for measures to tackle childhood obesity particularly in disadvantaged areas which are worst affected by this crisis.”

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childhood obesity diabetes heart disase high blood pressure Obesity sugar sugar sweetened drink sugar sweetened drinks tax

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