Sir Keir Starmer has reaffirmed his commitment to outlaw junk food advertising to children on TV and social media, but he has ruled out instituting a salt and sugar tax as long as the cost-of-living crisis continues.
The NHS will be “put in the ground” if the Tories are given another five years in power, the Labour leader warned in a speech in Braintree, Essex, as he outlined his vision for the institution.
Sir Keir stated on Monday that he will implement steps to stop young people from engaging in unhealthy eating as part of his proposals to lessen the burden on the health system.
In addition to making good on a prior promise, he informed BBC Radio 5 Live that the proposed ban would apply to TV stations as well as social networking sites.
Sir Keir Starmer said, “We have to include social media in that of course. I’ve got teenage children so I know very well where they get their information from.”
“We have to include social media in that of course. I’ve got teenage children so I know very well where they get their information from,” he told the show.
Invoking the cost-of-living problem, Sir Keir pledged not to put a salt or sugar tax on food; however, he did not completely rule out doing so should economic conditions ease under a Labour administration.
When asked if he would consider enacting a tax should food costs decline, he responded, “The focus we put today is very obviously on advertising. The government played around with this idea before abandoning it.
“I think that showed a fundamental weakness in their approach – an unseriousness about tackling the issues that really matter.
“What we don’t want to do in a cost-of-living crisis is add to the burden of food costs.”
A long-promised ban on pre-watershed TV advertising for junk food, which advocates say is a crucial anti-obesity policy, has not been implemented by succeeding governments.
Despite criticism that it does not go far enough, a levy on sugary drinks that went into effect in 2018 encouraged businesses to reformulate their goods to contain less sugar.
The government should “extend the sugar levy to non-sugary products,” according to former Conservative chancellor George Osborne, and a review by Henry Dimbleby suggested charging salt and sugar used in processed foods, restaurants, and catering.
Ministers have come under fire from Mr. Osborne for delaying the implementation of a ban on junk food advertising.
“To my mind, that’s very disappointing,” he said.
The Conservatives counter-accused about Labour’s own track record on health in response to Sir Keir’s worries about the status of the NHS.
Health minister Will Quince said: “It’s easy to shout from the sidelines, but the truth is Labour in Wales are currently missing all the targets Sir Keir Starmer has just set out for England.
“Labour have been running the health service in Wales for 25 years and haven’t met these targets. Sir Keir has a record of changing his mind – we can’t trust these will be Labour’s targets next week let alone in five years’ time.”