Brighton Students’ Union to hold referendum on university’s sugar tax

Posted On 14 Aug 2016 at 11:40 pm

Brighton Students’ Union is to hold a referendum on whether the 10p sugar tax introduced on sugary drinks a fortnight ago by Brighton University should be implemented in the student union outlets.

The campaign group Brighton Students Against Sugar Tax welcomed the U-turn by the students’ union.

The university brought in its sugar tax on Monday 1 August in the hope of encouraging students to make healthier choices.

The move, adding about 14 per cent to the cost of soft drinks, originally had the backing of the students’ union.

But Jeremy Gale, founder of Brighton Students Against Sugar Tax, criticised the university for acting without consulting, in a way that hit the poorest hardest and while students were on holiday. He said that the policy was regressive, autocratic, and ill-conceived.

He said: “We very much welcome the union’s U-turn. Unlike the university, the SU (students’ union) have actually listened to the arguments we, as students, made against the university’s sugar tax, namely the lack of student consultation, the tax’s regressive nature and the fact that payment for food education should be made out of the university’s bulging surplus, not on the backs of cash-strapped students.

“We will now be building our resources prior to the start of the academic year and the return of 20,000 students to campuses in Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings.

Jeremy Gale

Jeremy Gale

“We’re looking forward to a campaign that I hope will be both energetic and informative – one that galvanises students, gives them a deeper understanding of the food and sugar they consume and ultimately delivers a ‘no’ vote.

“If we secure a ‘no’ vote then I would call on the university to consign their own regressive and punitive tax to the dustbin.”

A debate is planned for Thursday 6 October with voting taking place electronically from Friday 7 October to Friday 14 October.

Peter Engelsen, a fellow student and secretary of Brighton Students Against Sugar Tax, said:

“A sugar tax at the university would be an ineffective policy with respect to encouraging healthier diets among students.

“Rather than discouraging unhealthy foods by making lives harder for poorer students, I would like to see some of the £7.7 million surplus made by the university reinvested in actively promoting a healthier lifestyle and providing healthier alternatives to students.”

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