The government has committed to introducing a new sugar tax on soft drinks.

Announced in today’s Budget, and set to be enforced in April 2018, the tax will force soft drinks companies to pay levies on all sugar added drinks, excluding milk-based drinks and pure fruit juices. 

Two tax bands will be introduced, one for total sugar content above 5 grams per 100 millilitres, and a higher rate for more than 8 grams per 100 millilitres. 

The levy is expected to raise £520m - money which will be put towards doubling the funding given to sports in primary schools, and helping secondary schools to offer longer school days. 

“One of the biggest contributors to childhood obesity is soft drinks,” chancellor George Osborne said.

“I’m not prepared to look back on my time in this parliament and say to my children’s generation ‘I’m sorry, we ducked a difficult process and did nothing,’” he added.

Some manufacturers would choose to pass the price on to shoppers, but this move would only help to reduce consumption further, he added. 

Reacting to the news, Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “Soft drinks make up 6.6% of convenience stores’ sales, and shoppers now have a wide choice of full sugar, low sugar and no sugar soft drinks when they visit any local shop. The chancellor’s new levy on soft drinks companies would have been better considered as part of an holistic strategy to tackle obesity.”

Retailer Samantha Coldbeck, owner of Premier Wharfedale Convenience in Hull, tweeted: “Brilliant news for Biz rates and SMEs, even the sugar tax seems to be sensible, I don’t often feel this happy after a Budget.”