Burnley, UK. School playground equipment supplier, ESP Play, has denounced the government’s decision to drop the ringfencing of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to help tackle the obesity crisis in schools. It claims the decision will prevent schools from implementing projects which have been seen to have a positive impact on obesity and mental health.
When first introduced, the government confirmed that income from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy would be ringfenced for use in schools until 2020. Over that time, the hundreds of millions of pounds it has raised have benefitted the health and wellbeing of pupils across the country. However, in the most recent spending review, the treasury has confirmed that ringfencing for income for the 2020-2021 period, forecast to be £340 million, has been removed.
Andrew Wood, Managing Director of ESP Play said, ‘Over the course of our work, we have seen young people benefit significantly from projects funded by the Soft Drinks Industry Levy. Schools that are ambitious to improve the health of their pupils rely on this income and without it, many children will be denied these potentially life-changing opportunities. We have seen the positive things the levy can do and would like to see its income ringfenced once again.’
As part of its services, ESP Play supplies and installs playground and outdoor sports equipment specifically designed to encourage pupils to be more physically active. With financially struggling schools seeing a growth in the number of overweight and obese pupils, the ‘sugar tax’ levy has been instrumental in helping them buy the school playground equipment that has been shown to increase pupil activity levels, both during free time and in PE lessons.
Andrew Wood added, ‘It’s not just pupils’ physical health which is benefitting from the sugar tax. The increased physical activity is also beneficial for mental health and wellbeing and with 12.8% of pupils suffering from a mental health disorder, it’s even more important that ringfencing is reintroduced.’
Note to Editors: ESP Play is a school playground development and CPD training specialist. It supplies and installs outdoor PE, curriculum-based and play equipment, together with playground and sports surfacing, to schools and EYFS providers throughout the UK. Operating from Burnley, Lancashire, it has worked with thousands of schools over the last 16 years.
Website address: https://www.espplay.co.uk/