Councils should decide how sugar tax is spent, LGA says

The Local Government Association (LGA) has said the sugar levy on soft drinks should be administered by councils who would be better positioned to work with schools and communities to fight childhood obesity.

The LGA has suggested that local authority public health teams should receive the funding, instead of giving the money directly to schools. The sugar levy is expected to generate around £520 million in the first year and the LGA argues that councils are uniquely placed to tackle obesity due to their links to local health, community and voluntary services, as well as schools.

It warned that cuts to councils’ public health budgets could meant they are unable to devote the same amount of funding to fighting obesity in adults and children.

Councillor Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board, said: "We support the government's intention of investing the money raised from the proposed soft drinks levy in physical activity and breakfast clubs.

"But it is councils that are uniquely placed to work with schools, parents, businesses and the voluntary sector to ensure that funding goes to where it is needed most in the fight against child obesity.

“Local authority public health teams are the people on the ground fighting obesity all year round, and the ones who know their communities best. They will have spent more than half a billion pounds tackling obesity since responsibility for public health transferred to councils three years ago, which illustrates the huge scale of the prevention work they are carrying out.”

"For this reason, we feel councils should be given a central role in ensuring the money is spent in the most effective way, and that we are able to help the government realise its ambition of reducing obesity."