Tag Archives: tackle

May appoints minister to tackle loneliness issues raised by Jo Cox

Tracey Crouch tasked with implementing recommendations from commission set up after the MP’s death

An elderly woman sits alone in a bedroom


Theresa May cited research saying that 9 million people often or always feel lonely. Photograph: Education Images/UIG/Getty Images/Universal Images Group

Theresa May has appointed one of her ministers to lead on issues connected to loneliness, implementing one of the main recommendations of a report into the subject by the Jo Cox Commission.

Tracey Crouch, the minister for sport and civil society, will head a government-wide group with responsibility for policies connected to loneliness, Downing Street said.

In parallel, the government said it would develop a wider strategy on the issue, gather more evidence and statistics, and provide funding for community groups to start activities which connect people.

The move follows a cross-party report by the commission set up in honour of Cox, the Labour MP murdered by a rightwing extremist in 2016, who had campaigned about loneliness.

May is expected to formally announce the appointment on Wednesday, and to say that she has accepted many of the recommendations from the commission. She will also host a Downing Street reception in honour of Cox’s work.

Citing research saying that 9 million people often or always feel lonely, the prime minister said: “For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life.

“I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones – people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with.”

May paid tribute to Cox’s work, saying she hoped the initiative would aim “to see that, in Jo’s memory, we bring an end to the acceptance of loneliness for good”.

The Jo Cox Commission, which is chaired by the Labour MP Rachel Reeves and Seema Kennedy, a Conservative, has been working for the past year with more than a dozen charities on ideas to approach the problem.

In a joint statement, Reeves and Kennedy said they welcomed the government response, and would work with Crouch and various groups to tackle the issue.

They said: “Jo Cox said that ‘young or old, loneliness doesn’t discriminate’. Throughout 2017 we have heard from new parents, children, disabled people, carers, refugees and older people about their experience of loneliness.”

Crouch said she felt privileged to be taking forward the work begun by Cox: “I am sure that with the support of volunteers, campaigners, businesses and my fellow MPs from all sides of the house, we can make significant progress in defeating loneliness.”

May appoints minister to tackle loneliness issues raised by Jo Cox

Tracey Crouch tasked with implementing recommendations from commission set up after the MP’s death

An elderly woman sits alone in a bedroom


Theresa May cited research saying that 9 million people often or always feel lonely. Photograph: Education Images/UIG/Getty Images/Universal Images Group

Theresa May has appointed one of her ministers to lead on issues connected to loneliness, implementing one of the main recommendations of a report into the subject by the Jo Cox Commission.

Tracey Crouch, the minister for sport and civil society, will head a government-wide group with responsibility for policies connected to loneliness, Downing Street said.

In parallel, the government said it would develop a wider strategy on the issue, gather more evidence and statistics, and provide funding for community groups to start activities which connect people.

The move follows a cross-party report by the commission set up in honour of Cox, the Labour MP murdered by a rightwing extremist in 2016, who had campaigned about loneliness.

May is expected to formally announce the appointment on Wednesday, and to say that she has accepted many of the recommendations from the commission. She will also host a Downing Street reception in honour of Cox’s work.

Citing research saying that 9 million people often or always feel lonely, the prime minister said: “For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life.

“I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones – people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with.”

May paid tribute to Cox’s work, saying she hoped the initiative would aim “to see that, in Jo’s memory, we bring an end to the acceptance of loneliness for good”.

The Jo Cox Commission, which is chaired by the Labour MP Rachel Reeves and Seema Kennedy, a Conservative, has been working for the past year with more than a dozen charities on ideas to approach the problem.

In a joint statement, Reeves and Kennedy said they welcomed the government response, and would work with Crouch and various groups to tackle the issue.

They said: “Jo Cox said that ‘young or old, loneliness doesn’t discriminate’. Throughout 2017 we have heard from new parents, children, disabled people, carers, refugees and older people about their experience of loneliness.”

Crouch said she felt privileged to be taking forward the work begun by Cox: “I am sure that with the support of volunteers, campaigners, businesses and my fellow MPs from all sides of the house, we can make significant progress in defeating loneliness.”

Building houses and saving the NHS: how Lib Dems would tackle this budget | Vince Cable

There is a risk that this week’s budget will be drowned out by Brexit and ministerial mishaps. But it really matters because the economy is in a precarious position.

The chancellor’s task is not easy. He can’t depart too far from his deficit reduction targets without damaging his already tarnished brand beyond repair. He’s heartily loathed by many of his Tory colleagues as a remoaner and as George Osborne’s representative on Earth. He is faced with a slowing economy at the bottom of the G7 growth league, dragged down by poor productivity and weak revenue receipts.

Productivity won’t improve without business investment, which is hampered by uncertainty over Brexit. Brexit – if it happens – will, at the very least, lead to years of underperformance. At worst, without a deal, it will lead to a massive shock. Not easy.

In the hunt for money hidden down the back of the sofa, we are told that the government “found” £5bn a year in the form of housing association borrowing, which has been reclassified as “private” rather than “public”.


The current orthodoxy is to curb all borrowing – but the government must free up investment spending

This statistical privatisation is the mirror image of the statistical nationalisation of Network Rail in 2014. The consequences have been unfortunate; Network Rail’s economically important and beneficial investment programme has since been slashed by the Treasury.

This experience underlines a central failing in Hammond’s approach to fiscal policy: an inability or unwillingness to distinguish capital from day-to-day spending. Gordon Brown’s fiscal rules, rightly, separated the two, as did the coalition agreement.

But the ultra-conservative Treasury is always reluctant to accept that well-directed public investment can reduce government net debt by boosting growth and creating assets. The current orthodoxy is to curb all borrowing, whether for productive investment, benefits or civil service spending. The government must free up investment spending.

Network Rail should be free to get on with its capital programme, which is badly needed to improve connectivity in the north, south-west and Wales. The chancellor should also get behind plans for large-scale publicly-financed housebuilding, which even the free-market communities secretary has endorsed with reports he wants £50bn to invest in housing over five years – a sensible if cautious commitment.

If the construction of homes is to double from the 150,000-a-year average of the past three decades, as it must, the government has got to get housing supply moving by acting as a catalyst. This includes the need for more council housing, in addition to investment through new towns and development corporations.

It is absurd to spend billions on housing benefit and the misnamed help-to-buy scheme, which props up prices and demand without attacking the root of the problem – insufficient supply.

There are more difficult trade-offs involved in the understandable demands for more resources for public services and public sector pay. The NHS needs an immediate injection of cash as well as long-term reforms, such as integrating health and social care and prioritising preventive medicine.

And since there is no magic money tree, this spending has to be financed by taxation, confronting the public openly with the choice. That is why my party argues for a penny in the pound of income tax to raise £6bn a year for the NHS.

In the same spirit, cash is urgently needed to offset the harsh and counterproductive squeeze on benefits, notably universal credit. But this has to be paid for, which is why tax cuts over the past two years will have to be reversed.

The growing inequality between generations also has to be addressed. Cutting tuition fees might grab the headlines, but it would harm the funding of universities and do nothing to help young people since this would only benefit highly paid graduates.

What I want to see is all young people being given a proper start in life, through a lifelong learning endowment or account that they are free to draw upon to finance continuing education or reskilling. Better-off older people will, I’m sure, be willing to make a contribution to future generations through the modest taxation of assets that have grown massively in value in recent years.

To put some numbers to this theory, a substantial endowment of somewhere between £5,000 and £10,000 would cost under £10bn annually. This is a big sum, but less than 0.5% of UK personal and property (net) wealth. A progressive reform of capital gains tax, inheritance tax and property taxes could produce this amount.

Some progressive redistribution is easier to achieve if the tax system has some integrity. The corrosive cynicism of the ultra-rich revealed in the Paradise Papers undermines public confidence.

The scope for vast tax windfalls is, however, limited. The changes my colleagues and I introduced in government – the open register of beneficial ownership and the general anti-abuse rule – have reduced the gap between potential and actual tax yield to one of the world’s lowest. But no doubt, much more could be squeezed out of tax avoiders if HMRC were as well-staffed and aggressive as the operation targeting benefit cheats.

It would send a powerful signal if tax-abusing British territories faced an escalating scale of sanctions. If, for example, territories with secretive tax structures ignore requests to improve transparency, they should have the necessary legislation imposed upon them by the British government, or be added to a blacklist banning registered entities from doing business in the UK.

It would also be right to show some of the toughness of the European commission in dealing with large international companies, which currently decide for themselves where and how much tax they want to pay.

These are changes that will make society fairer, while also respecting financial discipline and not relying on magic to balance the books.

Vince Cable is the leader of the Liberal Democrats, and was business secretary from 2010-15

Building houses and saving the NHS: how Lib Dems would tackle this budget | Vince Cable

There is a risk that this week’s budget will be drowned out by Brexit and ministerial mishaps. But it really matters because the economy is in a precarious position.

The chancellor’s task is not easy. He can’t depart too far from his deficit reduction targets without damaging his already tarnished brand beyond repair. He’s heartily loathed by many of his Tory colleagues as a remoaner and as George Osborne’s representative on Earth. He is faced with a slowing economy at the bottom of the G7 growth league, dragged down by poor productivity and weak revenue receipts.

Productivity won’t improve without business investment, which is hampered by uncertainty over Brexit. Brexit – if it happens – will, at the very least, lead to years of underperformance. At worst, without a deal, it will lead to a massive shock. Not easy.

In the hunt for money hidden down the back of the sofa, we are told that the government “found” £5bn a year in the form of housing association borrowing, which has been reclassified as “private” rather than “public”.


The current orthodoxy is to curb all borrowing – but the government must free up investment spending

This statistical privatisation is the mirror image of the statistical nationalisation of Network Rail in 2014. The consequences have been unfortunate; Network Rail’s economically important and beneficial investment programme has since been slashed by the Treasury.

This experience underlines a central failing in Hammond’s approach to fiscal policy: an inability or unwillingness to distinguish capital from day-to-day spending. Gordon Brown’s fiscal rules, rightly, separated the two, as did the coalition agreement.

But the ultra-conservative Treasury is always reluctant to accept that well-directed public investment can reduce government net debt by boosting growth and creating assets. The current orthodoxy is to curb all borrowing, whether for productive investment, benefits or civil service spending. The government must free up investment spending.

Network Rail should be free to get on with its capital programme, which is badly needed to improve connectivity in the north, south-west and Wales. The chancellor should also get behind plans for large-scale publicly-financed housebuilding, which even the free-market communities secretary has endorsed with reports he wants £50bn to invest in housing over five years – a sensible if cautious commitment.

If the construction of homes is to double from the 150,000-a-year average of the past three decades, as it must, the government has got to get housing supply moving by acting as a catalyst. This includes the need for more council housing, in addition to investment through new towns and development corporations.

It is absurd to spend billions on housing benefit and the misnamed help-to-buy scheme, which props up prices and demand without attacking the root of the problem – insufficient supply.

There are more difficult trade-offs involved in the understandable demands for more resources for public services and public sector pay. The NHS needs an immediate injection of cash as well as long-term reforms, such as integrating health and social care and prioritising preventive medicine.

And since there is no magic money tree, this spending has to be financed by taxation, confronting the public openly with the choice. That is why my party argues for a penny in the pound of income tax to raise £6bn a year for the NHS.

In the same spirit, cash is urgently needed to offset the harsh and counterproductive squeeze on benefits, notably universal credit. But this has to be paid for, which is why tax cuts over the past two years will have to be reversed.

The growing inequality between generations also has to be addressed. Cutting tuition fees might grab the headlines, but it would harm the funding of universities and do nothing to help young people since this would only benefit highly paid graduates.

What I want to see is all young people being given a proper start in life, through a lifelong learning endowment or account that they are free to draw upon to finance continuing education or reskilling. Better-off older people will, I’m sure, be willing to make a contribution to future generations through the modest taxation of assets that have grown massively in value in recent years.

To put some numbers to this theory, a substantial endowment of somewhere between £5,000 and £10,000 would cost under £10bn annually. This is a big sum, but less than 0.5% of UK personal and property (net) wealth. A progressive reform of capital gains tax, inheritance tax and property taxes could produce this amount.

Some progressive redistribution is easier to achieve if the tax system has some integrity. The corrosive cynicism of the ultra-rich revealed in the Paradise Papers undermines public confidence.

The scope for vast tax windfalls is, however, limited. The changes my colleagues and I introduced in government – the open register of beneficial ownership and the general anti-abuse rule – have reduced the gap between potential and actual tax yield to one of the world’s lowest. But no doubt, much more could be squeezed out of tax avoiders if HMRC were as well-staffed and aggressive as the operation targeting benefit cheats.

It would send a powerful signal if tax-abusing British territories faced an escalating scale of sanctions. If, for example, territories with secretive tax structures ignore requests to improve transparency, they should have the necessary legislation imposed upon them by the British government, or be added to a blacklist banning registered entities from doing business in the UK.

It would also be right to show some of the toughness of the European commission in dealing with large international companies, which currently decide for themselves where and how much tax they want to pay.

These are changes that will make society fairer, while also respecting financial discipline and not relying on magic to balance the books.

Vince Cable is the leader of the Liberal Democrats, and was business secretary from 2010-15

Building houses and saving the NHS: how Lib Dems would tackle this budget | Vince Cable

There is a risk that this week’s budget will be drowned out by Brexit and ministerial mishaps. But it really matters because the economy is in a precarious position.

The chancellor’s task is not easy. He can’t depart too far from his deficit reduction targets without damaging his already tarnished brand beyond repair. He’s heartily loathed by many of his Tory colleagues as a remoaner and as George Osborne’s representative on Earth. He is faced with a slowing economy at the bottom of the G7 growth league, dragged down by poor productivity and weak revenue receipts.

Productivity won’t improve without business investment, which is hampered by uncertainty over Brexit. Brexit – if it happens – will, at the very least, lead to years of underperformance. At worst, without a deal, it will lead to a massive shock. Not easy.

In the hunt for money hidden down the back of the sofa, we are told that the government “found” £5bn a year in the form of housing association borrowing, which has been reclassified as “private” rather than “public”.


The current orthodoxy is to curb all borrowing – but the government must free up investment spending

This statistical privatisation is the mirror image of the statistical nationalisation of Network Rail in 2014. The consequences have been unfortunate; Network Rail’s economically important and beneficial investment programme has since been slashed by the Treasury.

This experience underlines a central failing in Hammond’s approach to fiscal policy: an inability or unwillingness to distinguish capital from day-to-day spending. Gordon Brown’s fiscal rules, rightly, separated the two, as did the coalition agreement.

But the ultra-conservative Treasury is always reluctant to accept that well-directed public investment can reduce government net debt by boosting growth and creating assets. The current orthodoxy is to curb all borrowing, whether for productive investment, benefits or civil service spending. The government must free up investment spending.

Network Rail should be free to get on with its capital programme, which is badly needed to improve connectivity in the north, south-west and Wales. The chancellor should also get behind plans for large-scale publicly-financed housebuilding, which even the free-market communities secretary has endorsed with reports he wants £50bn to invest in housing over five years – a sensible if cautious commitment.

If the construction of homes is to double from the 150,000-a-year average of the past three decades, as it must, the government has got to get housing supply moving by acting as a catalyst. This includes the need for more council housing, in addition to investment through new towns and development corporations.

It is absurd to spend billions on housing benefit and the misnamed help-to-buy scheme, which props up prices and demand without attacking the root of the problem – insufficient supply.

There are more difficult trade-offs involved in the understandable demands for more resources for public services and public sector pay. The NHS needs an immediate injection of cash as well as long-term reforms, such as integrating health and social care and prioritising preventive medicine.

And since there is no magic money tree, this spending has to be financed by taxation, confronting the public openly with the choice. That is why my party argues for a penny in the pound of income tax to raise £6bn a year for the NHS.

In the same spirit, cash is urgently needed to offset the harsh and counterproductive squeeze on benefits, notably universal credit. But this has to be paid for, which is why tax cuts over the past two years will have to be reversed.

The growing inequality between generations also has to be addressed. Cutting tuition fees might grab the headlines, but it would harm the funding of universities and do nothing to help young people since this would only benefit highly paid graduates.

What I want to see is all young people being given a proper start in life, through a lifelong learning endowment or account that they are free to draw upon to finance continuing education or reskilling. Better-off older people will, I’m sure, be willing to make a contribution to future generations through the modest taxation of assets that have grown massively in value in recent years.

To put some numbers to this theory, a substantial endowment of somewhere between £5,000 and £10,000 would cost under £10bn annually. This is a big sum, but less than 0.5% of UK personal and property (net) wealth. A progressive reform of capital gains tax, inheritance tax and property taxes could produce this amount.

Some progressive redistribution is easier to achieve if the tax system has some integrity. The corrosive cynicism of the ultra-rich revealed in the Paradise Papers undermines public confidence.

The scope for vast tax windfalls is, however, limited. The changes my colleagues and I introduced in government – the open register of beneficial ownership and the general anti-abuse rule – have reduced the gap between potential and actual tax yield to one of the world’s lowest. But no doubt, much more could be squeezed out of tax avoiders if HMRC were as well-staffed and aggressive as the operation targeting benefit cheats.

It would send a powerful signal if tax-abusing British territories faced an escalating scale of sanctions. If, for example, territories with secretive tax structures ignore requests to improve transparency, they should have the necessary legislation imposed upon them by the British government, or be added to a blacklist banning registered entities from doing business in the UK.

It would also be right to show some of the toughness of the European commission in dealing with large international companies, which currently decide for themselves where and how much tax they want to pay.

These are changes that will make society fairer, while also respecting financial discipline and not relying on magic to balance the books.

Vince Cable is the leader of the Liberal Democrats, and was business secretary from 2010-15

Building houses and saving the NHS: how Lib Dems would tackle this budget | Vince Cable

There is a risk that this week’s budget will be drowned out by Brexit and ministerial mishaps. But it really matters because the economy is in a precarious position.

The chancellor’s task is not easy. He can’t depart too far from his deficit reduction targets without damaging his already tarnished brand beyond repair. He’s heartily loathed by many of his Tory colleagues as a remoaner and as George Osborne’s representative on Earth. He is faced with a slowing economy at the bottom of the G7 growth league, dragged down by poor productivity and weak revenue receipts.

Productivity won’t improve without business investment, which is hampered by uncertainty over Brexit. Brexit – if it happens – will, at the very least, lead to years of underperformance. At worst, without a deal, it will lead to a massive shock. Not easy.

In the hunt for money hidden down the back of the sofa, we are told that the government “found” £5bn a year in the form of housing association borrowing, which has been reclassified as “private” rather than “public”.


The current orthodoxy is to curb all borrowing – but the government must free up investment spending

This statistical privatisation is the mirror image of the statistical nationalisation of Network Rail in 2014. The consequences have been unfortunate; Network Rail’s economically important and beneficial investment programme has since been slashed by the Treasury.

This experience underlines a central failing in Hammond’s approach to fiscal policy: an inability or unwillingness to distinguish capital from day-to-day spending. Gordon Brown’s fiscal rules, rightly, separated the two, as did the coalition agreement.

But the ultra-conservative Treasury is always reluctant to accept that well-directed public investment can reduce government net debt by boosting growth and creating assets. The current orthodoxy is to curb all borrowing, whether for productive investment, benefits or civil service spending. The government must free up investment spending.

Network Rail should be free to get on with its capital programme, which is badly needed to improve connectivity in the north, south-west and Wales. The chancellor should also get behind plans for large-scale publicly-financed housebuilding, which even the free-market communities secretary has endorsed with reports he wants £50bn to invest in housing over five years – a sensible if cautious commitment.

If the construction of homes is to double from the 150,000-a-year average of the past three decades, as it must, the government has got to get housing supply moving by acting as a catalyst. This includes the need for more council housing, in addition to investment through new towns and development corporations.

It is absurd to spend billions on housing benefit and the misnamed help-to-buy scheme, which props up prices and demand without attacking the root of the problem – insufficient supply.

There are more difficult trade-offs involved in the understandable demands for more resources for public services and public sector pay. The NHS needs an immediate injection of cash as well as long-term reforms, such as integrating health and social care and prioritising preventive medicine.

And since there is no magic money tree, this spending has to be financed by taxation, confronting the public openly with the choice. That is why my party argues for a penny in the pound of income tax to raise £6bn a year for the NHS.

In the same spirit, cash is urgently needed to offset the harsh and counterproductive squeeze on benefits, notably universal credit. But this has to be paid for, which is why tax cuts over the past two years will have to be reversed.

The growing inequality between generations also has to be addressed. Cutting tuition fees might grab the headlines, but it would harm the funding of universities and do nothing to help young people since this would only benefit highly paid graduates.

What I want to see is all young people being given a proper start in life, through a lifelong learning endowment or account that they are free to draw upon to finance continuing education or reskilling. Better-off older people will, I’m sure, be willing to make a contribution to future generations through the modest taxation of assets that have grown massively in value in recent years.

To put some numbers to this theory, a substantial endowment of somewhere between £5,000 and £10,000 would cost under £10bn annually. This is a big sum, but less than 0.5% of UK personal and property (net) wealth. A progressive reform of capital gains tax, inheritance tax and property taxes could produce this amount.

Some progressive redistribution is easier to achieve if the tax system has some integrity. The corrosive cynicism of the ultra-rich revealed in the Paradise Papers undermines public confidence.

The scope for vast tax windfalls is, however, limited. The changes my colleagues and I introduced in government – the open register of beneficial ownership and the general anti-abuse rule – have reduced the gap between potential and actual tax yield to one of the world’s lowest. But no doubt, much more could be squeezed out of tax avoiders if HMRC were as well-staffed and aggressive as the operation targeting benefit cheats.

It would send a powerful signal if tax-abusing British territories faced an escalating scale of sanctions. If, for example, territories with secretive tax structures ignore requests to improve transparency, they should have the necessary legislation imposed upon them by the British government, or be added to a blacklist banning registered entities from doing business in the UK.

It would also be right to show some of the toughness of the European commission in dealing with large international companies, which currently decide for themselves where and how much tax they want to pay.

These are changes that will make society fairer, while also respecting financial discipline and not relying on magic to balance the books.

Vince Cable is the leader of the Liberal Democrats, and was business secretary from 2010-15

Use carrot and stick to tackle obesity crisis | Letters

The UK is the “most obese nation in western Europe” (Report, 11 November), and there is widespread agreement that a range of measures is required to address this problem. One such measure, the government’s proposed sugar tax on soft drinks, should therefore be commended, especially since it introduces the concept of using price policies to promote healthier eating. However, the policy is likely to be more effective if the stick of the sugar tax is balanced by a carrot of subsidies on fruit and vegetables, increased consumption of which protects against numerous disorders – notably heart disease, stroke and bowel cancer – and is likely to limit the rise in obesity. As the WHO pointed out in its 2015 report Using Price Policies to Promote Healthier Diets, “Taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages and targeted subsidies on fruit and vegetables emerge as the policy options with the greatest potential to induce positive changes in [food] consumption”. However, as the WHO says, extra government intervention will likely be required to bring the price of fruit and veg down to a level everyone can afford and provide the maximum benefit to all. This will require more research on price policy strategies of how to spend the tax on sugar-containing drinks – something which was not the remit of the government’s adviser, Public Health England.
Henry Leese
Windermere, Cumbria

Your report says correctly that the government’s childhood obesity strategy was heavily criticised “for its reliance on voluntary action by the food and drink industry and lack of restrictions on the marketing and advertising of junk food”. It was also criticised for making no reference to breastfeeding, or to the current inadequate restrictions on marketing and advertising of breastmilk substitutes that contravene the WHO code. Obesity begins in infancy, and it is no accident that the breastfeeding rate in Britain is among the lowest in Europe.
J Peter Greaves
London

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Use carrot and stick to tackle obesity crisis | Letters

The UK is the “most obese nation in western Europe” (Report, 11 November), and there is widespread agreement that a range of measures is required to address this problem. One such measure, the government’s proposed sugar tax on soft drinks, should therefore be commended, especially since it introduces the concept of using price policies to promote healthier eating. However, the policy is likely to be more effective if the stick of the sugar tax is balanced by a carrot of subsidies on fruit and vegetables, increased consumption of which protects against numerous disorders – notably heart disease, stroke and bowel cancer – and is likely to limit the rise in obesity. As the WHO pointed out in its 2015 report Using Price Policies to Promote Healthier Diets, “Taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages and targeted subsidies on fruit and vegetables emerge as the policy options with the greatest potential to induce positive changes in [food] consumption”. However, as the WHO says, extra government intervention will likely be required to bring the price of fruit and veg down to a level everyone can afford and provide the maximum benefit to all. This will require more research on price policy strategies of how to spend the tax on sugar-containing drinks – something which was not the remit of the government’s adviser, Public Health England.
Henry Leese
Windermere, Cumbria

Your report says correctly that the government’s childhood obesity strategy was heavily criticised “for its reliance on voluntary action by the food and drink industry and lack of restrictions on the marketing and advertising of junk food”. It was also criticised for making no reference to breastfeeding, or to the current inadequate restrictions on marketing and advertising of breastmilk substitutes that contravene the WHO code. Obesity begins in infancy, and it is no accident that the breastfeeding rate in Britain is among the lowest in Europe.
J Peter Greaves
London

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Use carrot and stick to tackle obesity crisis | Letters

The UK is the “most obese nation in western Europe” (Report, 11 November), and there is widespread agreement that a range of measures is required to address this problem. One such measure, the government’s proposed sugar tax on soft drinks, should therefore be commended, especially since it introduces the concept of using price policies to promote healthier eating. However, the policy is likely to be more effective if the stick of the sugar tax is balanced by a carrot of subsidies on fruit and vegetables, increased consumption of which protects against numerous disorders – notably heart disease, stroke and bowel cancer – and is likely to limit the rise in obesity. As the WHO pointed out in its 2015 report Using Price Policies to Promote Healthier Diets, “Taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages and targeted subsidies on fruit and vegetables emerge as the policy options with the greatest potential to induce positive changes in [food] consumption”. However, as the WHO says, extra government intervention will likely be required to bring the price of fruit and veg down to a level everyone can afford and provide the maximum benefit to all. This will require more research on price policy strategies of how to spend the tax on sugar-containing drinks – something which was not the remit of the government’s adviser, Public Health England.
Henry Leese
Windermere, Cumbria

Your report says correctly that the government’s childhood obesity strategy was heavily criticised “for its reliance on voluntary action by the food and drink industry and lack of restrictions on the marketing and advertising of junk food”. It was also criticised for making no reference to breastfeeding, or to the current inadequate restrictions on marketing and advertising of breastmilk substitutes that contravene the WHO code. Obesity begins in infancy, and it is no accident that the breastfeeding rate in Britain is among the lowest in Europe.
J Peter Greaves
London

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Use carrot and stick to tackle obesity crisis | Letters

The UK is the “most obese nation in western Europe” (Report, 11 November), and there is widespread agreement that a range of measures is required to address this problem. One such measure, the government’s proposed sugar tax on soft drinks, should therefore be commended, especially since it introduces the concept of using price policies to promote healthier eating. However, the policy is likely to be more effective if the stick of the sugar tax is balanced by a carrot of subsidies on fruit and vegetables, increased consumption of which protects against numerous disorders – notably heart disease, stroke and bowel cancer – and is likely to limit the rise in obesity. As the WHO pointed out in its 2015 report Using Price Policies to Promote Healthier Diets, “Taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages and targeted subsidies on fruit and vegetables emerge as the policy options with the greatest potential to induce positive changes in [food] consumption”. However, as the WHO says, extra government intervention will likely be required to bring the price of fruit and veg down to a level everyone can afford and provide the maximum benefit to all. This will require more research on price policy strategies of how to spend the tax on sugar-containing drinks – something which was not the remit of the government’s adviser, Public Health England.
Henry Leese
Windermere, Cumbria

Your report says correctly that the government’s childhood obesity strategy was heavily criticised “for its reliance on voluntary action by the food and drink industry and lack of restrictions on the marketing and advertising of junk food”. It was also criticised for making no reference to breastfeeding, or to the current inadequate restrictions on marketing and advertising of breastmilk substitutes that contravene the WHO code. Obesity begins in infancy, and it is no accident that the breastfeeding rate in Britain is among the lowest in Europe.
J Peter Greaves
London

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters