Use Soft Drink Sugar Levy To Ensure Lasting Commonwealth Games Legacy

The Local Government Association (LGA) is calling for money raised from the soft drinks industry levy to be reinvested in council-run initiatives to boost physical activity and find the sporting champions of the future.

The levy, designed to reduce consumption of sugary drinks, has raised around £1.2 billion since its introduction. However, it is no longer ringfenced to be spent on efforts to tackle obesity and physical inactivity despite a commitment from the Government to use the levy to fund “programmes to encourage physical activity and balanced diets.”

A recent study suggests that only 45 per cent of primary school aged children have one hour a day worth of physical activity, with data collected by councils also revealing rates of childhood obesity are still above their pre pandemic levels.

Councils already run a number of initiatives to tackle obesity, including delivering the National Child Measurement Programme, and are uniquely placed to run weight management initiatives in local communities.

However, earlier this year the Government cut funding for locally commissioned adult weight management programmes, meaning a number of councils have to cancel vital support programmes to help people lose weight in their communities.

By reinstating this funding and devolving sugar levy funds, the Government can ensure councils can continue to provide vital services such as tackling childhood obesity and encouraging greater physical activity in their local areas.

Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“The whole country has been incredibly proud of the achievements of our Lionesses and Commonwealth Games champions, many of whom started their journeys into elite sport at council run sports facilities.

“If we are to capitalise and ensure a lasting legacy from these successes, we’ve got to get as many children active as we can.

“The sugar levy has been used as one of many tools to tackle growing levels of obesity across the country. However, it is concerning that it is increasingly unclear how the revenue generated from this is spent.

“It is vitally important that money raised through the levy is reinvested in physical activity programmes in local communities and other support to tackle childhood obesity.”

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said:
“Sporting events like the Commonwealth Games are fantastic at influencing international perceptions of the UK and marketing the UK to international visitors. But we must ensure that participation boosts fuelled by events like these are not short lived.

“Councils provide the majority of public swimming pools and leisure facilities, which are now under increased pressure as a result of rising energy costs. Urgent intervention is needed to prevent council-run leisure facilities from closing under cost-of-living pressures. Coupled with long-term investment in public sport alongside major UK sporting events, this will help to inspire people to be more active for generations to come.”