Sugar tax should be ring-fenced for public health, says CSP

The estimated £1bn revenue from a sugar tax should be ring-fenced for public health if introduced to reverse the damage being done by cuts, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy says today.

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Services designed to address the obesity crisis are set to bear the brunt of public health cuts.

According to a recent survey by the Association of Directors of Public Health, over 50% of directors of public health are expecting to reduce or decommission weight management programmes in the coming year.

The government has already cut local authority public health budgets by £200m during 2015-16; with additional public health spending cuts of four per cent a year in real terms for the rest of this decade.

A sugar tax would help plug the public health black hole and support effective delivery of the childhood obesity strategy, when it is launched.

The CSP is calling for the childhood obesity strategy to:

  • include the introduction of a sugar tax and ring-fence revenue for public health
  • make the provision of physical activity and weight management programmes a statutory responsibility of local authorities (currently they have no mandatory duty to deliver such services)
  • provide children of school age with access to high quality physical activity throughout the week, enabling them to meet recommended levels and reduce obesity

Karen Middleton, chief executive of the CSP, said:

'The CSP completely agrees with Jeremy Hunt that childhood obesity is a 'national emergency'. The challenge is to ensure that the forthcoming childhood obesity strategy meets the scale of this emergency.

'Implementing a sugar tax and ring-fencing the revenue for public health would make it possible to protect crucial physical activity and weight management programmes which are currently under threat.

'Ultimately providing good local preventative programmes – in schools and across communities – is one of the key routes out of this growing crisis.

'The alternative is, as directors of public health are warning, that spending on physical activity continues to be squeezed yet further. This situation risks undermining the childhood obesity strategy before it is even launched.

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Note to editors

For further information please call the CSP press office on 020 7306 1111, email pressoffice@csp.org.uk. Out of hours please call Jon Ryan, head of press and PR, on 07917 091200, Ben Wealthy, senior media advisor, on 07771765172 or John Millington, PR and social media officer, on 07766 994141.

1. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is the UK’s professional, educational and trade union body. We have 54,000 members, including chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and support workers.

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by Jon Ryan

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