Over £250,000 of sugar tax to fund school programmes

Sugar tax

Tower Hamlets schools have received over £250,000 of funding for projects derived from the ‘sugar tax’, the Soft Drinks Industry Levy allocated to schools through the Healthy Pupils Capital Fund (HPCF).

Schools submitted bids illustrating how they would use the funding to improve young people’s physical and mental health through new projects and facilities.

Across London, over £100m of revenue has been allocated to schools from the sugar tax on full fat fizzy drinks, introduced in April 2018.

Some 41 schools in the borough successfully applied for funding to put towards a variety of projects and equipment including gardening, soft play, cooking facilities, running tracks and playgrounds.

Mayor Biggs said: "It is great that so many schools have taken advantage of the funding towards refurbishments, equipment and programmes that will contribute to the overall wellbeing of their students. This will increase children’s access to active play and lifelong skills such as growing their own food and cooking healthy meals."

Cllr Amina Ali, Cabinet Member for Adults Health and Wellbeing said: "I’m delighted that Tower Hamlets schools are getting access for funding for crucial projects to improve physical and mental health. It’s so important for us to promote healthy eating and quality food for young people."

Beatrice Tate, a secondary specialist school for pupils with severe learning difficulties, submitted its bid for a wheelchair accessible school garden for growing and cooking fruits and vegetables that provides a calm space for their pupils.

Teacher Alice Woodhouse said: “At Beatrice Tate School we are dedicated to promoting and protecting students’ emotional wellbeing and good health.

“Providing students with the tools, knowledge and experiences to manage their mental health, wellbeing and physical health has an important role in education and impact on our students’ learning. We provide a whole-school approach to wellbeing, taught across the curriculum and enriched by initiatives led by specialist staff.

“With raised planters and adapted easy grip tools, it will create a place for students to grow healthy ingredients to use in their food preparation and cooking activities. In addition to the many therapeutic benefits gardening offers, this fruit and vegetable garden will further ensure our students are equipped with the knowledge of where their food comes from and the skills to prepare it themselves.”

The council recently signed the Local Government Declaration on Sugar Reduction and Healthier Food Charter. Provided by Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming, the purpose of the charter is to provide a framework to support local authorities to make a public commitment to improve the availability of healthier food and drinks and to reduce the availability and promotion of unhealthy options. 

Signing this charter is a key component of a wider council strategy to reduce obesity and other diet-related diseases such as dental decay, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

To date the council has:

  • Pledged its commitment to the national SUGAR SMART campaign, led by the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation and Sustain. The initiative provides suggested actions that local authorities, organisations, schools, businesses and community groups can take towards reducing sugar and helping people live healthier lives.
  • Reviewed and improved school menus.
  • Provided more than 20,000 free meals over the 2018 summer holidays.
  • Came joint-first for the best overall borough in Sustain’s Beyond the Food Bank annual league table last year

There are many ways to reduce sugar consumption by taking simple steps. Change 4 Life online offers many examples of how to make a big difference.

Posted on Tuesday 4th June 2019