If the average person spends 30% less on their household food bill, they’ll save money — and pay less tax, be a lot healthier and contribute to global food security.
Here’s the how and why of it:
Most of the food we buy is zero-rated on VAT; i.e. we don’t pay tax on it. But some ‘food’ products do carry standard rate VAT (i.e. 20%), including confectionary, most drinks including booze, many biscuits, most ice-creams and savoury snacks such as crisps . . .
The reason why these goods carry VAT is because they’re not deemed essential, but luxuries — so occasional treats. Note, however, that all these items have zero or little nutritional value, and/or contain more sugars and fats than a good for us.
Remember, too, that their production takes up resources of land, water and energy, all under considerable strain.
Kim Willis, Research Project Officer of the Chartered Institute of Public Health, kindly undertook analysis of Defra stats for the Birmingham Food Council.
She discovered that a whopping 30% of the average household food bill is on these VAT-rated products. So for every £100 spent on food, £30 is on these items — and of this thirty quid, a fiver is on tax.
So could we all save the full 30% on our household bill? I couldn’t by this method as I rarely buy sweets, drinks, crisps or biscuits.
But on average, yes. And to good effect. The average British consumer eats some 70% more calories than s/he requires (3440 kcal compared to the 2000 kcal that’s recommended), and also eats more sugars, fats and salt than they should.
So if you cut down on VAT-rated food products, you save money and are much healthier.