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Budget 2016: Sugar tax ‘not enough’

Published on 16 March 2016

Cans of fizzy drinkIn response to today’s Budget, we've welcomed the Government’s decision to introduce a sugar tax in 2018 on sugary drinks, while warning that more needs to be done to make public health and the prevention of arthritis and other long-term conditions a priority.

The Government estimates that the ‘sugar tax’ will initially raise £520 million through a levy on the sugar content of soft drinks. Over half of this money will be spent on primary school sports.

Commenting on the news, Olivia Belle, our director of external affairs said: “We welcome the Government’s announcement to tax sugary drinks. We know that there are nearly 9 million people living with the pain of osteoarthritis in the UK and the risk of arthritis, particularly knee osteoarthritis, is much higher if you're obese, as excess weight puts strain on joints.

“Our research shows that without action to tackle rising levels of obesity the number of people living in pain will skyrocket in the next 20 years. Even a 5 kg weight loss can halve the risk of knee osteoarthritis among women."Our research shows that without action to tackle rising levels of obesity the number of people living in pain will skyrocket in the next 20 years."Olivia Belle, director of external affairs

“To make any real headway in the fight against obesity, some of the £520 million raised by the sugar tax should be reinvested into fund vital lifelong public health priorities like physical activity and tackling obesity at a local level, which have been put at risk by recent government cuts.”

‘Moving the goalposts’ for disabled people living in pain

In other measures, there were no further specific welfare changes announced at today’s Budget.

However, on Friday (11 March) we responded with deep concern to the Government’s proposed changes to the assessment of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The changes mean the number of points that can be scored in the PIP assessment for using an aid or appliance to manage toilet needs, or to dress and undress have been halved from two to one.

This move could have a major impact on thousands of people with arthritis who would rely on PIP, and it may mean many disabled people with arthritis being turned down for this support in future.

We believe the Government are moving the goalposts for over 230,000 disabled people living with the pain of arthritis, and jeopardising their independence.

People don't choose to use an aid or adaptation, often they need it for basic tasks that we take for granted. This move, far from being fair, jeopardises their right to remain independent.

We'll continue to oppose these changes and fight for a fair deal on welfare for people living with arthritis. Look out for more news and campaign updates about how you can join the fight. If you think you might be affected by these changes, please get in touch via and share your story.

‘Chronic’ underfunding in social care

The Chancellor announced no further funding for social care, despite warnings that continued failure to address the chronic underfunding of social care would mean more than a million vulnerable disabled and older people and their carers losing out on basic care such as washing and feeding themselves.

We know that the pain arthritis causes can affect people’s dexterity and mobility, meaning that they're reliant on care and support to undertake day-to-day activities, such as washing, cooking and shopping.

The lack of funding will be deeply disappointing to the thousands of vulnerable people and their carers, living with the pain of arthritis and needing that extra support that social care services provide.

It leaves our social care system in an unsustainable position. We urgently ask the Government to take action and invest in the social care system now to avert this growing crisis, so that vulnerable people living with conditions like arthritis don't pay the price.

Backing the search for a cure

Today the Government did recommit to a real-terms protection of science funding in the UK.

This is good news for people with arthritis. It means our researchers will be able to continue their vital work to improve the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis, and keep up the search for a cure.

Look out for further news and campaigns on our website, or contact for further information and to take part in our future campaigns.

For more information, go to
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.