Education Secretary Justine Greening has said that the levy on drinks that have a high sugar content will provide £415m of funding for sports and healthy eating in schools.
The funds will be allocated to all schools across the UK, in order to help develop facilities for both physical and mental health, as well as to improve the standard of physical exercise in school.
However, schools, many of which are complaining about funding shortages, will be unable to use the funds to pay staff.
The levy on soft drinks was announced in last year’s Budget and is intended to curb the rising levels of childhood obesity by taxing sugary drinks, at different rates according to the amount of sugar contained within them, with the money being spent on improving health in schools. A governmental forecast expects the tax to raise around £520m in 2018-19, and consider it to be an effective incentive for the food and drinks industry to lower sugar levels in their products.
Every state-funded school, whether primary, secondary or sixth form, will receive a proportion of the funding, but there will also be a bidding process for funding for specific projects.
“Schools can really help our children get a healthy start in life from exercise and sport, and also from knowing what a healthy diet means,” said Ms Greening. “It’s not only good for them while they’re in education, but the health and wellbeing benefits can last a lifetime.”
However, Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association, said it was “odd to hinge this investment on a punitive tax against the soft drinks sector which has led the way in helping consumers reduce sugar intake – down nearly 18% since 2012”.
“There is no evidence from around the world that a tax of this sort has reduced levels of obesity,” said Mr Partington.