I just paid a 12p sugar tax in McDonald’s – and I’m bloody annoyed about it

The McDonald's in St George's Street

My standard post-night out routine involves a visit to McDonald’s in St George’s Street for a sausage and egg meal with a full fat Coca-Cola.

“That will be £3.81,” the lady at the cash till said when I paid. Now, I’m sad enough to know that the meal should be £3.69.

Nevertheless, I paid up, didn’t raise it with the employee and instead checked the receipt.

And yep, there it was: a 12p sugar tax had been applied. Another member of staff told me that they had been charging the tax since Monday.

It’s not the amount of money I’ve been charged that I object to – 12p is neither here nor there in the grand scheme of things.

What I’m concerned about is that this amounts to yet another attempt by government to control our lifestyles.

The Soft Drinks Industry Levy, as the sugar tax is properly called, applies to drinks that have sugar added in production, apart from sweet milk drinks, alcohol and fruit juices which are naturally sugary.

For drinks with more than 5g of sugar per 100ml, but less than 8g, the levy is 18p per litre. For drinks with more than 8g of sugar per 100ml, the levy is 24p per litre.

The government reckons it could coin in £240 million per year, which it will then spend on school play equipment.

I’m constantly suspicious of giving government any more of my money than it already takes. The more it takes, the more it spends it badly.

And anyway if the country so badly needs extra play equipment, then shouldn’t it already be paying for it?

Nope, this is just a ruse cooked up to camouflage the tax’s real purpose: controlling our lifestyles by limiting the choices open to us.

The authorities want us to notice the effect of the tax and stop choosing the wrong drinks. Well, they want those on low incomes to stop choosing the wrong drinks. It is they, after all, who consume the most sugary drinks and it is they who will be hardest hit by the tax.

We are told this is necessary because there is an obesity “epidemic”, a strange choice of noun for something which is neither a disease nor transferable from one organism to another. This claim comes at a time when people are healthier and living longer than they ever have been.

But most importantly of all, the sugar tax will have little effect on those who are overweight. According to a 2014 study into our dietary habits, sugary drinks make up about 5% of the calorie intake of 11- to 18-year-olds and about 2.5 for adults.

Regardless of any of the statistics, the government has no place trying to dictate how we should lead our lives.

If I want a sugary cola once a week to help cope with the excesses of the night before, I should be able to have one without handing more of my limited funds to the state.


  1. This is yet another ploy(on health grounds) ho ho ho. Where the Goverment take more money from you and give you.NOTHING. As for more play equipment…ho ho ho again. Did i vote for this? And it,s the principle involved. 12p is 12p and yes it,s not fortunes. Tell it how it is…it,s the hidden agenda i have trouble with. And while i,m here….Tesco,s record profits….thats easy….just keep putting the prices up….solved. Deals…Offers BOGOF…Now tell me all the other items you put the PRICE UP ON.

  2. I would rather the ridiculous offers that cause waste are scrapped BOGOF when you only really need one. Keep prices reasonable and people will buy it. As for the sugar tax I feel that due to a minority of people the majority are suffering, I eat healthy but when I want to have a treat I will. I cannot see that all schools will benefit and the money will be put into other things that it was not meant for. So many people are poorly educated you can eat healthy cheaply. This should be thought at schools along with how to manage your household bills and money.

  3. As usual the self appointed do gooder brigade have penalised those whose lifestyle had already embraced a reduced sugar intake. Pepsi and Coca Cola have reduced bottle sizes while maintaining the price in the hope that we won’t notice and they have done the same with their sugar free products too. When I bought a KFC meal I pointed out the discrepancy between the price displayed and the price charged and was directed to read a poster informing me of the sugar tax. When I pointed out that my drink was sugar free all I got was a shrug of the shoulders. Thanks for nothing sugar levy lobby!

  4. Stop moaning about it, it is so save the next generation of kids from obesity and diabetes, don’t like it, don’t buy it, there’s always a sugar alternative.

  5. I’m not interested in the next generation I don’t have kids so not interested in school play equipment either, let the people with kids pay. In fact how about a tax on kids because of what they cost everyone.

  6. I am a Brit but live far from the UK and do not bother keeping up with the news as to me it is irrelevant. I go back to the UK about once every 18 months. Was recently there where in London Victoria (Victoria’s Place) KFC some snotty 21 year old working behind the counter shoved a sign in my face when I said are you being serious – referring to him saying something about sugar tax.

    UK is an absolute joke of a country. Sugar Tax? To pay for kids stuff? I call BS. We have had over 30 years of a) Children in Need b) Comic Relief c) National Lottery. Where has all this money gone?


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