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Sugar tax raises £10,000 for leisure centre operator as customers shift habits

By Deven Pamben    24 Apr 2017
Sheffield International Venues has introduced a 20pence charge to drinks at cafes and vending machines at its leisure facilities

Leisure centre operator Sheffield International Venues (SIV) has so far raised £10,000 (US$12,795, €11,955) from the introduction of its sugar tax on fizzy drinks as members move towards buying low and non-sugar drinks at its sites.

SIV, which is the leisure arm of health and wellbeing charity Sheffield City Trust, operates 11 sports and recreational venues in Sheffield.

In July last year, it introduced a 20p charge on all drinks containing 5mg of sugar per 100ml or more sold at cafes and vending machines at its SIV leisure facilities.

SIV said there has been a swing towards customers buying low and non-sugar drinks, with the operator on course to cut 1.3 tonnes of sugar - the equivalent of 332,750 teaspoons worth - from its sites.

SIV will reinvest the cash made from the levy in obesity and diabetes prevention programmes for young people, pledging a minimum of £25,000 (US$31,990, €29,885) to the initiative.

In May 2016, the then chancellor George Osbourne announced a new sugar tax on the soft drinks industry aimed at high-sugar drinks. The tax, however, is not officially expected to come into force until April 2018.

Steve Brailey, SIV chief executive, said: "Following government policy on sugar reduction last year, we decided to take a stand. Childhood obesity is at shocking levels whilst adults do not fare any better. Enough was enough.

"We produced really simple guidance and support for our customers and the public, and the response was overwhelmingly positive."

Greg Fell, Sheffield's director of public health, said: "Everyone is watching across the world as overseas countries and cities introduce this kind of measure. It is expected England will follow suit in due course.

"The emerging evidence is of a substantial shift in purchasing towards low sugar alternatives. If done at scale that will bring substantial health benefits. I congratulate SIV on their pioneering work. They are well ahead of the field here, and I look forward to working with other organisations in the city to follow their example."

SIV is working with its partners on childhood obesity and physical activity schemes and will be announcing programmes soon.

Brailey added: "We are also working with the University of Sheffield to deliver recommendations on the effectiveness of this scheme as a potential public health policy. We firmly believe that we can do so much more together than we can alone - which is why we're calling for other organisations to follow our lead."

Sugar  Obesity 
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