Thursday 12 March 2015

The fizzy drink tax racket

From The Guardian:

A sugary drinks tax could save the NHS up to £300m over 20 years, according to campaigners, who say costs would be slashed by the reduction in diabetes, stroke, heart disease and cancer.

No, no, no. We explained this last year when the Children's Food Campaign—for it is that state-funded pressure group again—used similar estimates to claim that Londoners would "save" £39 million over 20 years.

What they neglect to mention (but have mentioned previously) is that their sugary drinks tax would cost taxpayers £20 billion over those same 20 years. The taxes would be paid by drinkers of sugary drinks (ie. nearly everybody) rather than general taxpayers (also nearly everybody), but it would be an extra burden, not a saving.

The maths shouldn't be too much even for Guardian journalists:

Cost: £20 billion

Saving: £0.3 billion

Net cost: £19.7 billion

“Current taxes on foods are a mess, and don’t support people choosing healthier options,” said Malcolm Clark, co-ordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign.

That's not wholly true. The tax system on food and drink is a mess, but it mostly supports Malcolm Clark's aims. Fruit, vegetables and water are VAT-free. Fizzy drinks, chocolate and takeaways are not. In other words, there already is a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks and there is a 20 per cent tax on lots of other 'unhealthy' products too.

“Using the revenue to set up a Children’s Health Fund, paying for programmes to improve children’s health and protect the environment they grow up in, would also ensure that this was a progressive measure, benefiting families in poverty and on low incomes."

This is a reference to the £1 billion a year that Malcolm and his colleagues are hoping the government will hand over to people like them to set up "an independent body" and to pay for "education".

Let's be clear, there is nothing "progressive" about using an indirect stealth tax to pick the pockets of the poor and give the spoils to middle class do-gooders and bureaucrats. Such a tax would be unambiguously regressive. To claim that families in poverty would benefit because some ball-juggling quango sticks a glossy pamphlet through their door once every five years is so ludicrous as to be borderline offensive. It is an appalling idea on every level.

Speaking of middle-class bureaucrats pissing away taxpayers' money...

“Public health directors in north-west England and in Cardiff, as well as the London Health Commission, have publicly backed a sugary drinks duty."

To paraphrase the late Mandy Rice-Davis, they would, wouldn't they? That's another good reasons why these pointless parasites should be kicked out their jobs and their quangos closed down.

"We hope this new research encourages public health directors across England to join their counterparts in calling for the government to introduce a nationwide duty.”

A state-funded sock puppet calling on other state-funded sock puppets to lobby the government for higher taxes so they can get more funding. What a sleazy little racket these people have going on.


Christopher Snowdon said...

Just give up Christopher; it's over. If cigarette plain packaging goes through by a huge majority when we have a Conservative-led government then that's it. We'll have a sugary drinks tax next year and alcohol plain packaging in 5 years or so.
Personal choice is an outmoded concept; we are now at the mercy of every lying authoritarian out there, thanks to corrupt politicians and a supine electorate.
Accept it or emigrate, that's the one remaining choice to make.

Christopher Snowdon said...

And in practice wouldn't it just lead to a substantial switch to "diet" versions of fizzy drinks, unless they were included too?

Christopher Snowdon said...

These will be the grandchildren of the people who said the NHS itself would save us money because we'd all get progressively healthier. The NHS currently costs £130,000,000,000 a year.