[Sir David Amess in the Chair]
The clocks on either side of the Chamber are not working, but frankly we are not overwhelmed with people wishing to speak so there will be no time limit on speeches.
I beg to move,
That this House has considered the allocation of funding from the soft drinks industry levy for sport in schools.
May I say what a pleasure it is to serve under your chairmanship, Sir David? This is a subject that I am passionate about. Since becoming an MP, I have spoken in a number of debates on the power of sport to influence good behaviour, create opportunities and provide enjoyment. I must stress that the purpose of the debate is to focus not on whether we are right or wrong to have a sugar tax, but on how we should spend the levy, now that the decision has been taken. With a £500 million pot, that is a significant amount of money that can make a genuine difference.
I must thank all the organisations that have contacted me in recent days ahead of the debate, including: the Sports and Recreation Alliance, which is understandably keen to see sporting opportunities increase; Sustrans, which wants to see more funding for walking and cycling programmes to and from school; Youth Sport Trust, which has also focused on the sports element and the link between greater physical activity and greater academic performance, which I know the Minister for School Standards will welcome; and ukactive, which has done a huge amount of research, highlighting in particular the cliff edge fall in activity during school holidays, which I will come back to. I was also contacted by health organisations such as: Diabetes UK, which is obviously in favour of reducing the amount of sugar being used; Cancer Research UK, on the same principle; and the Royal College of Surgeons, on behalf of dental surgeons, obviously to reduce tooth decay.
This is an important subject, because one third of children are obese or overweight by the time they leave primary school. To me, that was a staggering statistic to read. When I was growing up, it seemed that all of us were active and charging around, so I was staggered by the figure of one third—one in three. That is not only an alarming figure; social norms start to be created. If an increasing number of children are overweight or obese, that becomes acceptable and therefore it starts to increase. On a topical level, through the NHS we currently spend £6 billion a year helping people with illnesses linked to being either overweight or obese. How we could better spend that money if there were fewer obese people. And an obese child is five times more likely to be an obese adult than an adult who was not obese as a child.
The Youth Sport Trust highlights that only 21% of boys and 16% of girls meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity. I recognise that we are competing with video games, shrinking gardens—back gardens are now one third smaller than they were in the 1960s—and cautious parents. When I was growing up, parents did not think anything of children disappearing on long bike rides, playing in distant parks and going to their friends’ houses far afield, whereas nowadays parents are understandably worried if their children are out of sight. Again, that limits the opportunity to be active.
The Government recognise that we have to do something. In August 2016 they published “Childhood obesity: a plan for action” with the aim of reducing significantly the rate of childhood obesity. The plan included the soft drinks levy, which is worth £520 million a year, and clearer food labelling—something I pushed for in the previous Parliament through my work with the British Heart Foundation—because we have a duty to allow consumers to make informed decisions. Another fact that surprised me—I say this as someone who does enjoy drinking sugar-laced fizzy drinks but who wishes to be informed—was that a five-year-old should take in no more than 19 grams of sugar a day, yet one can of Coke contains 35 grams. How many consumers actually know that? If they did, would they change their habits?
Crucially, the plan was announced as part of a nudge policy, where we gave the industry two years to make changes. I recognise that many of the leading manufacturers and retailers are already making changes—as I said, I am not focusing on whether the levy was right or wrong, but clearly part of the strategy is to influence behaviour—but, as we have recognised that physical activity is good for health and good for improving academic performance, I welcomed that the money would be ring-fenced to spend on activities connected to schools. If we are to have a tax and get extra money, let us ensure that that money is spent in the right way. The best way to do that for children is through schools.
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on bringing this important subject to the Chamber. Given his enthusiasm for sport in schools, which I share, would he like to comment on the coalition Government’s decision to scrap the school sport partnerships in 2010, which has had a really detrimental effect on sport in our schools? I do not see the sugar tax as going all the way to replacing the excellent school sport partnership scheme that we had.
Actually, that was the very first time I rebelled—I was rewarded by sitting on some obscure European committees thing for five years to think carefully about my actions. The funding was not scrapped. There was a change and initially a proposal to remove the ring-fencing, but the money was then once again ring-fenced, though schools were allowed to choose how to spend it on sports-related programmes. I supported that because we have got some fantastic school sport partnerships that are still thriving today—including my local one—but there were also some pretty poor ones, which have gone by the wayside, and those schools have now spent that money on individual sports coaches, sports clubs and things like that. We got there in the end, and funding has increased in this area since 2010.
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves the issue of sport, no one is against using some of the sugar tax revenue for encouraging greater sporting activities, but does he not accept that in his constituency, in mine and in everyone else’s, during the school holidays large numbers of children who would have free school dinners during term time do not get any food from the school or free school dinners? Might not one of the ways of making the sugar tax progressive be to earmark part of the revenue to ensure that schools could at least lay on the facilities for voluntary bodies to provide school dinners during the holidays?
That is a powerful point, and I agree with the sentiment of it. I would not necessarily use the sugar tax money, but that is something that the Government could consider as a wider point. It is a fair point, and actually some of the head teachers in some of the more deprived parts of my constituency have raised similar concerns about what happens to the children not just with regard to eating, but on wider issues throughout the holidays.
As it stands, there will be £285 million to extend the school day in secondary schools in relation to sport, £160 million to double the primary school physical education budget, and £10 million to expand breakfast clubs. That was welcomed by Emma Boggis, the chief executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, who said it will
“deliver more opportunities to get children of a young age active”
“to stay active in later life.”
That is an important point. We must recognise that the opportunities we create must be regular and sustainable, because we also recognise that if the Government’s intention for the sugar tax works out and all the manufacturers reformulate their products and customers switch from full-sugar versions to zero-sugar versions, the amount of money will diminish. We must therefore ensure that the money is spent to seed regular sustainable activities. This is where I bring forward my rather reasonable—in my unbiased opinion—asks.
This has all come about from a visit to Oakhurst Community Primary School, which hosts the Draycott sports camp, run by Mark Draycott, a PE teacher at the school. The school runs after-school clubs, weekend clubs and school holiday clubs. There are lots of sports camps and I am sure that all of us as MPs have visited them at some point, but this one sets itself apart by a country mile. More than 200 primary schoolchildren were being active each and every single day in the last summer holidays, of whom slightly more were girls than boys—that is something for Sport England and the Sport Minister to recognise and celebrate, because that is a particular area of challenge—and they were engaging in all sorts of different sports.
A summary of how the camps work is that they run during every school holiday from 9 am to 6 pm, costing £12.50 a day, which is probably the cheapest childcare that a parent will find. They create an active environment that is inclusive and engaging for all abilities. That is vital, because a particularly sports-minded child probably has sports-minded parents and will already be signed up to a football, rugby or netball club. The camps are for the vast majority of children who are not necessarily sports-minded and who are the most likely to become obese.
The camps focus on helping children to be more active and introducing them to new sports—not only football and netball, but cricket, athletics, golf, lacrosse and so on—so that they can replicate what inspires them on the television. I visited a camp during the Olympics and saw them recreate the things that were inspiring them on the TV—it was amazing. Because Mark Draycott is a teacher, and because the majority of his support staff have connections to the school or are teachers themselves, they have the expertise to identify and support those children who are starting to fall by the wayside, and who are not naturally gifted or naturally enthusiastic about sports, to make sure that they remain engaged. They concentrate on killing the fear factor that some children have when playing sports and ensuring that they enjoy the activity. They are increasing participation among girls and bucking those national trends.
I highlight that because we have an opportunity to replicate this. As Mark Draycott said when he was interviewed on “BBC Points West” this morning, the camps should be not only at Oakhurst in Swindon, but all over the country; there should be hundreds and hundreds of them. They are sustainable, because the taxpayer is not paying him to do this—he is running the camps as his own organisation. However, the Government can help. First, anybody who wishes to set up one of these camps will need to build up numbers. We could therefore look to incentivise other people to do the same sort of thing as Mark by reducing the charge for hiring the school facilities at the beginning, until they build up the numbers and become sustainable in their own right and can keep going.
We also need to attract more good quality physical education teachers into the profession. We had a chronic shortage of PE teachers, although more are beginning to come in now. The beauty of this situation is that Mark Draycott came from a sporting background—he was a non-league sports player. The coalition Government tried to attract troops to become teachers, but it turned out that there were not millions of troops who wished to become teachers. However, there are many non-league sports stars who are minded and who, with the right incentives and the right instructions, could go on to become very good PE teachers in schools. I urge the Minister to look at that potential wealth of talent from whom, if we advertise to them, we could potentially recruit some very good people.
There could be lots of Draycott sports camps all over the country, which would be fantastic for those who wish to pay and can afford to do so—as I have seen, for 200 children every single day. That is something that we can replicate. However, I wish to go even further. I would also like to see all school facilities made available for free between 4 pm and 6 pm to any voluntary organisation that wishes to use them. For example, if some parents get together and wish to put on a netball, football or basketball club—I do not mind which, so long as it is a constructive activity for young people—between the hours of 4 pm and 6 pm, we should not charge them. Some of the sugar tax money can then be used to compensate the loss of income to schools. That is not a peak time for school hire fees, because school sporting facilities are generally used when offices and factories shut at 6 pm, which is when schools would expect to make their income. I therefore suspect that compensation would be only a modest part of that income, but it would remove the barrier that many enthusiastic parents find.
I know that, because I spent 10 years as a borough councillor in Swindon representing a new build area with private finance initiative schools. There were limited leisure facilities, yet there were fantastic sporting facilities that the taxpayer was paying for but which we could not afford to access at a time when they were simply not being used. That does not make sense. We can find people willing to give up their time; there are hundreds of sports clubs across all of our constituencies that would seize the opportunity to provide constructive opportunities that will make our children active, that will remain in place once the money starts to diminish and, crucially, that will help busy parents.
Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that many teachers across the UK are already running voluntary after-school clubs and taking their own time to offer the sorts of activities he is talking about?
I absolutely pay tribute to teachers, parents and people in the local community who are prepared to give up their own time to provide constructive activities for young people. I want the Government to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit that Mark Draycott showed so that others can set up their own holiday camps and there are regular, good and exciting opportunities for young people.
In conclusion, I urge the Government to seize this opportunity. It is not often that a Department is given a significant increase in funding. I know from my time as a Minister that it is normally a case of wondering how on earth we can find money to do all of the worthy things we would like to do. However, this is an opportunity to benefit children by making them more active and therefore less obese, and to improve their academic achievement, because there is a direct link between those who are active and their ability to progress academically. It will also be a welcome blessing for hard-working, busy parents, whose biggest challenge is often what to do with children after school, during the long school holidays and at weekends. This offers the opportunity to deliver those long-term, sustainable solutions. I want every child to have as much fun as those children who go to the Draycott sports camp, and now is the time we can make that a reality.
When I first heard about the sugar levy, I was naturally against it; I am against taxes and I am against extra levies. However, as a member of the Health Committee, I saw the evidence for myself, and I realised that the issue of obesity is too great to ignore. My hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon (Justin Tomlinson) has already alluded to some of the data, which show that one in five children start primary school either overweight or obese—that doubles for children in the most deprived parts of the country—and that one third of children now start secondary school either overweight or obese. However, what is really frightening is that children are now being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which until recently was seen as a disease of older age.
Along with the Health Committee, I came to the conclusion that we must do whatever we can to combat this epidemic. Even though I am against taxes, this is part of a whole raft of measures that we need to take on board to protect the future health of our nation. We should not see the sugary drinks industry levy as a tax and as money that will always be there; we need to use it as part of a method of helping families to change the way they live and their current habits. As part of the plan is to encourage the industry to reduce the amount of sugar in drinks, the levy will decrease year on year, so we need to look at ways of ensuring that whatever uses for that money are set up now are sustainable, and that the young people do not fall off the cliff edge once the money is no longer there.
I am delighted that the money is going to be spent mainly in schools. Let us face it: children spend most of their time in the school environment. As my hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon alluded to, they could spend even more time there and undertake some of the activities we have talked about. The school environment is perfect for creating new habits and for helping those habits to go to the home environment as well. We need to tackle obesity at every age. It is a huge problem in the adult population as well as in children. If we can change those habits in the children now, we will be changing those habits for life. That is really important.
There are two sides to how the levy can be spent. Today we are focusing on exercise, but it is also about nutritional education as well. That is why I am delighted that some of the money will be spent on extending breakfast clubs. I would like to see that not only for breakfast clubs, but for after-school clubs that can help children learn more about how to cook further meals, not just how to eat breakfast. We have a long way to go on that.
Let us focus more on how the money can be spent on activity within schools. As chair of the all-party group on adult and childhood obesity, this issue is very close to my heart. I have said before that the plan launched in August does not go far enough. It needs to be braver and bolder and to include more measurement. We can continue to have that argument. The plan set the ambition for children to have 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise a day at primary school age, and for at least 30 minutes of that to be in the school environment. It also recommended expanding breakfast clubs, which I mentioned, and for secondary schools to be open longer, with some of those extended hours including sports clubs and groups. As my hon. Friend said, that could extend to the school holidays and not just be at the end of the school day.
It is important we are able to measure the outcomes of anything we put in place, because we need to know what works and what is cost-effective. As I said, the levy will reduce over time, so we need to know what is and is not worth investing more money in. Whatever we do should have a tick box for sustainability.
I have come up with some ideas. We have heard in the past about the daily mile, whereby children run or walk a mile every day within school time. However, some schools do not have the right environment for that. Some have playing fields, but at this time of year they can be very muddy. Investment in all-weather paths would be useful for the future, so that children are not discouraged by getting very muddy; sometimes children do not like to get dirty, and at other times they do. If they had a good environment, they could get out there and be active. Once that surface is in place, the activity becomes free and sustainable, and it could be used after school and in the school holidays, not just during school time.
Only last week I visited one of my schools in Ilkeston, Hallam Fields Junior School, which is a very fortunate school. It is built on the hillside and its playing fields and grounds have fantastic views, so the kids love going out to play. Not far away is another school that is enclosed by houses. Its outdoor facilities are just not as good. We need to encourage kids in schools where facilities do not lend themselves as easily to exercise and help those schools. Perhaps we can look at schools joining together in some way.
We need to extend this debate to what children do outside school. They can form habits within the school environment, but if those habits are not continued once they get home, it is not good for the children, for the parents or—let us face it—for the taxpayer. A number of family activities can be done at very low cost and with little investment. Once again, we could look at using some of the levy from the sugary drinks tax for that. As I said, schools need to provide at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, but that means parents need to provide more exercise as well every day.
Improving some of our parks could be one answer. I know that parkruns are very popular. In fact, Long Eaton parkrun has just received an award for being a good community group for the whole of Derbyshire, which is really encouraging. It does not cost anything, and it caters for all abilities and ages. If we could encourage more voluntary groups such as that to provide activities, that would be really good and in keeping with what my hon. Friend is talking about.
We have seen some great successes within the senior school environment through the “This Girl Can” campaign. One of my other schools, Kirk Hallam Community Academy, has been very successful in encouraging more girls to get involved in exercise. That has now filtered down from the secondary school to the local primary school, which is really good. Local authorities have responsibility for maintaining parks, but they also have responsibility for public health. If they were encouraged to invest more in outdoor activities that helped the public health side of things, it would be a win-win situation. It is important that there is joined-up government to ensure that we tackle the problem of obesity head-on. If we just leave it to one Department or another, I am sure it will fall through the net.
Cycling is another activity that allows parents to lead their children by example and helps to form lifetime habits. My hon. Friend talked about barriers. The cost of a bike could be a barrier to many families. We are all familiar with the Boris bike, so why not use that concept and have community bikes? Schools could play their part by providing a hub for community bikes. Families could book bikes, go out for a 5-mile or 10-mile cycle and then return them. There could be a range of bikes for all abilities and ages, and children could get some exercise and continue a habit formed in the school environment. That would benefit children and adults as well. It has been estimated that in the first year the sugary drinks levy will raise £520 million. In this context, that is not a lot of money, so it must be invested wisely and effectively. We must also be able to measure the impact.
I want to finish by painting a picture, which hopefully will help people to understand just how important it is to do whatever we can to tackle the obesity crisis. The sugary drinks levy is just one way to tackle this. Cancer Research UK recently revealed that teenagers drink almost a bathtub full of sugary drinks on average every year. That is shocking, and it needs to be changed. The sugary drinks levy must be just one part of a whole raft of measures, to ensure that our young people stop drinking that bathtub full of sugary drinks annually. Whatever we think about the sugary drinks tax, the money must be spent wisely and in a sustainable and measurable way.
Order. Before calling the next speaker, I remind Members that there is a firm rule now that if they intervene, they must remain for the winding-up speeches, so they cannot just intervene and then depart. I call Mr Tom Mc Nally.
It is Mr John Mc Nally. It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir David.
I thank the hon. Member for North Swindon (Justin Tomlinson) for securing this debate and congratulate him on his rebellious nature. We are probably all very grateful for that. He might be welcome in our party in the not-too-distant future.
He’s from North Swindon, not Scotland.
Well, you never know. We are growing as we go.
I welcome the introduction of the sugar tax with open arms. I was glad that the Chancellor looked at this issue and introduced this possibility, so that today we can look at how we best use this money. It is one of the biggest changes to benefit our communities in general.
I have to declare an interest. In the first instance, my three great-nieces, Liv, Honor and Celi, were all under the scholarship and tuition of Elaine Wyllie at St Ninians Primary School. I have seen that initiative working at first hand. I have also taken on board what Maggie, MP for Erewash, said about how to put in the proper surfaces—in fact, at that time, I was quite instrumental in helping the person who was laying the surfaces—and how to reduce the number of puddles on the surface so that people can train and walk on it. That initiative has been one of the biggest successes in the whole area, so I am very grateful to Elaine Wyllie.
At the last meeting of the APPG, where I am proud to serve under Maggie Throup, Elaine Wyllie came along to explain how successful the daily mile has been, and not only in Stirling and my own area of Falkirk, where all the schools are participating. I think that Barack Obama became involved in the initiative; it has spread through the whole world. It grips the imagination. We only have to stand and watch the children going to school to see the benefits in how they act. They are eating better and looking better, and their attention to school matters is better. Everything from that initiative is a plus.
We have also had the benefit—again, through Maggie—of the drinks industry coming along to the APPG. It was interesting to hear from a vast company such as Coca-Cola what it was trying to do and the effect that the measure would have in terms of how it reformulates not only its cans of drink, but its whole way of thinking. This is not just a simple step from one thing to another; it is a huge investment that these companies have made, and we must be mindful of that.
There is another thing that Maggie has understated. I know for a fact that she got—
Order. I feel that the point has been reached at which I must say that the hon. Gentleman should refer to other Members by their constituency rather than their first name. I do not wish to be pompous, but I think we have to be firm.
I am probably the opposite of pompous, and “Maggie” is easier to say than “Erewash”. Anyway, to be serious, the hon. Member for Erewash (Maggie Throup) managed to get representatives of the drinks industry and the British retail industry along to the meeting, and it was fantastic to hear the exchanges between the audience and the drinks industry. There was a bit of honesty, which was great to hear.
I want now to move on to the second thing that is very close to my heart. One of the most striking things about the various meetings hosted by the APPG on adult and childhood obesity is that they are all extremely well attended—any of the other, side events are also extremely well attended. They have involved a huge variety of people with a background in medical knowledge. All the contributions have been superb and worth listening to, and the rooms are always full, but one thing that I find striking every time I hear it is that there are, I believe, only 12 health visitors in the whole United Kingdom who have any in-depth professional knowledge of how to give advice to a mother and child on childhood obesity and how to deal with it. My wife, who is a recently retired health visitor and master of public health, has become extremely interested in pursuing that.
Does the hon. Gentleman know whether there are any health visitors who are capable of giving advice to a father and child, as opposed to a mother and child?
That is a great intervention. Being a man, I sometimes miss these things, but my wife has pointed out to me very often that there are—[Laughter.] She is never shy and, being a good husband, I always listen to what she has to tell me—I learned early that that saves an awful lot of grief.
The serious point is that there are not enough health visitors across the UK who are sufficiently well trained and educated on this matter. My wife is now preparing for a correspondence course. To reiterate the point, we need to look seriously at this: could we take some of the money from the sugar tax and apportion it towards training health visitors to a better level and to have a better understanding? That is really the point that I came here to make today.
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Falkirk (John Mc Nally) and my fellow Health Committee member, my hon. Friend the Member for Erewash (Maggie Throup). I am very grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon (Justin Tomlinson) for bringing this very important debate to the House.
I realise that this is not a debate about the sugar levy per se, but I would like to state at the outset that I fully support the levy. In fact, if anything, I would like it to be extended to include milk-based sugary drinks. It addresses a very important issue, and it is worth reminding ourselves of the data on health inequality from obesity. Now, in the most disadvantaged areas, 26% of the most deprived children are leaving year 6 not just overweight but obese, with extraordinary long-term consequences for both their mental and physical health, so we should remain focused on what the purpose of the measure is.
Let me also stress that we should not think about tackling obesity as just about sport; it is also about nutrition. We should not lose sight of that in the debate. Reducing calories has to be the mainstay of addressing childhood obesity. That said, we should also have a message that exercise and physical activity matters, whatever one’s age and weight, and has extraordinary benefits. I fully support the words of my hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon about how we can incorporate sport as part of the anti-obesity strategy and about the importance of hypothecating the money raised by the sugary drinks levy so that it goes to these types of project and is focused on the most disadvantaged groups.
Does the hon. Lady agree that the 26% in the most deprived areas are probably children from the families who are least able to afford some of the things that have been mentioned, such as the £12.50 a day for sports activities, and that the cost of things should not rule out children who probably need that activity more than others?
I thank the hon. Lady for her intervention. I absolutely agree. It is essential, if we are to address some of the accusations that this is a regressive tax, that we ensure that it becomes progressive in the way the money and the resources are allocated. I think there has been a commitment to that. We can look at how the Government have stated they will spend the money—providing up to £285 million a year to give 25% of secondary schools in the most disadvantaged areas the opportunity to extend their school day, and £10 million of funding to expand breakfast clubs in the most disadvantaged areas. I absolutely agree with the hon. Members who have already commented that that could be extended into holiday periods. I am talking about how we look at nutrition, and expanding nutritional education and, in particular, targeting that on the most disadvantaged areas. We know that Mexico’s experience is that those on the lowest incomes end up spending more of their income on products such as sugary drinks, so we must be absolutely clear that the benefit returns primarily to the most disadvantaged, and of course it is the most disadvantaged areas that have the highest levels of childhood obesity, so I absolutely agree with what the hon. Member for Sunderland Central (Julie Elliott) has said.
This is primarily about school sport and how we hypothecate the money for activities in the most disadvantaged areas, although not just in the most disadvantaged areas. We have already heard the hon. Member for Falkirk pay tribute to Elaine Wyllie, and I add my tribute to her extraordinary achievements. She told me when I met her recently that if directors of public health take this initiative on board, that gives it much a greater impetus. She has looked at where it has been most successfully rolled out, and it is where directors of public health work together with education to push for it and see the benefits. Of course, the benefits are not just for children. The initiative is now being rolled out to families and staff in schools, so there is a whole-community approach to changing attitudes to mobility.
I would also like to make a point about active travel. The all-party parliamentary group on cycling, of which I am a member, held an inquiry in the last Parliament, “Get Britain Cycling”. One issue that was very clear from that was that active travel is one of the forms of activity that people are most likely to engage in over the long term. I therefore urge my hon. Friend the Minister to consider how schools can engage with the programme and get children cycling to school and college. My hon. Friend the Member for Erewash pointed out that the cost of a bike can sometimes be a deterrent, but there are many things we can do about rolling out Bikeability to all ages across schools and ensuring that we focus on active travel, because that is the form of activity that people are most likely to sustain throughout their life.
I would also like to pick out the importance of play. I pay tribute to Play Torbay, in my constituency, and the work it is doing. That has been pointed out by the all-party parliamentary group on a fit and healthy childhood. I do not know whether the Minister has had the chance to read its excellent report, which considered how we can use the money effectively. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Erewash that evaluation is critical. We need to see what delivers results in the long term, particularly because, if the tax is effective in the way we hope it will be, the revenues raised from it will decrease as a result of behavioural change. We need to ensure that the money available is targeted in the most effective ways.
We should also look at the difference in activity rates between girls and boys. Girls are not as physically active; particularly as they go through the school years, activity levels decline. I urge the Minister to continue to support Sport England’s “This Girl Can” programme, which has already been referred to. We need to look across the piece and make sure we engage children at every level in a way that they are most likely to continue to keep active. I have a concern that if we just talk about sport, we risk taking our eye off the ball. Tackling obesity first and foremost has to involve calorie reduction. We must take empty, wasted calories out of children’s diets. There are other harms; obesity is not just about sugar levels. The biggest single cause of admission to hospital for primary school children is to remove their rotten teeth. The benefits of reducing sugar in children’s diets go beyond tackling obesity.
Will the Minister liaise with his colleagues on the rest of the money from the sugary drinks levy that we are raising? As it stands, the Government have indicated that a significant proportion will go towards the academisation programme, but now that there has been a change to the policy objective of forced academisation, I think the sugary drinks levy would command far greater public support if every penny of it was hypothecated to public health measures to support children, particularly at a time when public health grants are being cut and measures to support children who are already obese are being cut back in local authorities. I hope to see even more of the sugary drinks levy being hypothecated to progressive measures to target children who are already obese and to help prevent children from becoming obese in the first place. I support my hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon in saying that sport is a key part of that, and that matters whatever a child’s weight and whatever a child’s age.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir David, and it is an honour to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston), given her experience in these matters. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon (Justin Tomlinson). He is not from Scotland, I hasten to add, so I doubt he will be joining the Scottish National party any time soon. He is a champion of many causes, and I know he feels particularly strongly about helping young people in many different ways. I am delighted that he secured this debate, which I welcome.
As co-chairman of the all-party group on mountaineering, I have been doing a lot of work over the past few years to try to encourage outdoor recreation. It is vital to encourage more people to get involved in it, so that we improve participation in sports-related activity and help rural tourism. Most importantly, as I have been working on these issues, it has become clear that outdoor recreation is a vital tool to help tackle obesity and physical inactivity, which we have talked about at length today. That is important for adults and, particularly in relation to this debate, young people. Given the powerful debate we had this morning on young people’s mental health, it is important to add that outdoor recreation and sports more widely can help with young people’s mental wellbeing, which is absolutely key.
Before I go into my suggestions for how the money could be spent, it is worth looking at lessons from other countries. I will focus on Finland for a minute. The Finns feel so strongly about physical activity that it is now deemed, as of 1999, a basic cultural right. I am not sure exactly what that means, but it sounds incredibly important. Their Government have focused on this, as an area for improvement across the board, in a strategy called “On the Move”, which has four guidelines. I will not go through all of them, but the first one is interesting: reducing sitting in daily life, across the course of life. Perhaps we should have more debates standing up. The second one is increasing physical activity across the course of life. They have rolled this down to different age groups. The Finnish National Board of Education has got funding and support available to ensure that many schools have clubs, 85% of which are related to physical activity and sports.
We want to improve participation in sports and physical activity, and the Finns have made huge strides in that arena. As my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes said, the issue is also about active travel and being active in the workplace and the classroom.
I welcome the soft drinks levy; it is an opportunity. Some have said the funds are not significant, but hundreds of millions is significant and can make a difference in the lives of young people. Some may dispute how much of the funding will be put in place, but if it is of the order of hundreds of millions, we need to make sure we use it purposefully and invest it wisely on behalf of young people. I am pleased that it will be focused on primary and secondary schools, particularly in areas that are disadvantaged. It will help secondary schools to have more activities and sports available after school.
I am a big supporter of the daily mile, sometimes called the active mile. I have been working with ukactive to promote this further. It has been referred to several times. It is a simple, basic initiative that encourages and inspires children to take 15 minutes out of the day to run, walk or jog. It is as basic as that. It is fun, non-competitive and inclusive. I support competitive sport, but this initiative is something that everybody can engage with, and it helps to encourage more children to get more of their 60 minutes of physical activity a day done in school. Various initiatives are being taken forward by different providers. The daily mile is promoted by the Daily Mile Foundation and the golden mile by Premier Sport. Of course, there is junior parkrun. I was able to do my first park run with my 10-year-old daughter at the end of last year. There is also Marathon Kids, supported by Nike and Kids Run Free.
The daily mile has demonstrated that children who participate are healthier, less overweight and more alert. As the Minister for School Standards will be pleased to hear, they are also more focused on their lessons, so it is a win all round. My daughter is benefiting from her daily mile at Upton Priory School in Macclesfield. I look forward to promoting the initiative much more actively in March when I work with Active Cheshire to encourage more schools in Macclesfield and across east Cheshire to benefit from the initiative.
I would warmly welcome the Minister or one of his colleagues setting up a meeting with ukactive and the providers of the different schemes to work out how we can encourage more schools to get involved and to adopt daily mile or active mile initiatives during 2017. It is a low-cost programme. If we want to leverage the funds that come out of the soft drinks levy efficiently, I cannot think of a better initiative. It would be incredibly easy to leverage and would help hundreds of thousands of children from a wide range of backgrounds. It would be easy to do. My hon. Friend the Member for Erewash (Maggie Throup) raised concerns about some schools not having sufficient space, but let us consider the walking bus or other activities that we can do to encourage kids to walk to school; that is easy to do, and I hope that the Minister takes that on board.
I cannot keep away from active outdoor recreation too long, so I will spend a few moments on that. So often when we talk about sport, it is traditional sport: rugby, football, hockey, netball. If we want to appeal to the widest possible group of kids, we must remember that not every child will be interested in those traditional sports. We have to find other ways of engaging those kids in physical activity. I know that the SNP spokesperson, the hon. Member for Glasgow North West (Carol Monaghan), has strong views on this; I look forward to hearing from her.
The daily mile is one activity, but “Reconomics”, a very important report taken forward by the Sport and Recreation Alliance, highlights that there is plenty more we can do. There is orienteering, Duke of Edinburgh schemes, walking, cycling, which I know is a passion for the hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Mike Kane), and climbing, which is a passion of mine; they all have a lot to offer. If we want to reach—and that is the operative word—the maximum number of kids, we shall have to think more innovatively about how we spend the money. Traditional sports alone will not do that.
I am delighted that the Government have a new sports strategy—perhaps it is not so new; it is a year old. It is a wide strategy that includes a focus on outcomes—physical, health and mental wellbeing outcomes. Its focus is not just on sports; for the first time, at least five of its 20-odd pages focus on outdoor recreation. This is a perfect opportunity for the Department for Education and the Department for Communities and Local Government to work together to ensure that those health and mental wellbeing outcomes are achieved, through funding from the soft drinks levy.
This debate is important and timely. I encourage the Minister to look at those two areas—the daily mile and outdoor recreation—as well as others that have been mentioned, and at linking these things through. It is vital that we work not only with Ministers but with health-related bodies and third-party sector bodies. We want to make sure that there are genuine improvements in the quality of young people’s lives, and this is the opportunity to do it.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir David, and to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (David Rutley) in the debate. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon (Justin Tomlinson) on obtaining an important debate which is, as my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield said, timely, given the subject matter.
My views on the sugary drinks levy are well documented, and this is not the right debate in which to go over them. If anyone wants to, there is an article online, entitled “Ten reasons why the sugar tax is a terrible idea”, setting them out. Today, however, is about the allocation of the money. I have concerns that can be wholly set aside from the debate. Both sides, whether in favour of the tax or against it, are well meaning; the issue is whether it will work, how much money we shall get, and what we shall spend it on. I have an issue with dedicated or hypothecated taxes in principle, because we do not really have an idea, apart from some presumptions and assumptions, about how much money will come in.
I accept all the points made by hon. Members about obesity. I know, from just one Christmas when I have come back to Parliament feeling that my suits have shrunk considerably—that is the excuse I am using—that we have an issue with obesity, and childhood obesity in particular. We must take measures to tackle that, without question. My worry is that this is an instance of “Something must be done. This is something, so let’s do it.” Parking that worry, however, and accepting that we must address the problem of childhood obesity, I agree with all the points that have been made about sport, including sport in schools, and fantastic initiatives such as the activity camps that my hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon mentioned, as well as the use of school premises out of school hours. They are fantastic ideas. Driving past secondary schools in the evening or at the weekends, one can see that many are being used. However, primary schools are less used. They have beautiful fields, and in some cases astro pitches or multi-use games activity centres, which would be perfect. They sit unused when members of society, and in particular young people, would desperately love to go and kick a ball around or play basketball. There is a huge public health gain to be made from the principle of using the money to fund measures that will reduce obesity and get more children active.
However, if we accept that there can be such a massive public health gain, and that the right thing to do for the health of the nation is to invest the money as I have described, we should be funding it through general taxation. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said when the policy was announced:
“We are going to use the money from this new levy to double the amount of funding we dedicate to sport in every primary school. For secondary schools, we are going to fund longer school days for those that want to offer their pupils a wider range of activities, including extra sport.”—[Official Report, 16 March 2016; Vol. 607, c. 964.]
The figure mooted at the time was some £520 million. I want, as does, I believe, every Member of the House, £520 million or thereabouts to be spent on school sports; but we have no way of saying how much of that money will be raised from the sugary drinks levy. That is my fundamental concern. If we are saying that the issue is important and that we should invest in it, and that it will have a massive impact on childhood obesity and public health, we should invest in it. We should not be giving schools and other organisations, such as those mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon, funding that is not sustainable.
We should treat the issue as important, and commit the money to it. I am worried because, on my calculation, reformulation, portion size, illicit sales and such things as cross-border shopping will mean that the figure raised will be more like £200 million to £300 million. That is a considerable shortfall on the amount quoted in the Budget last year. We must ask questions about hypothecated taxes and direct taxes. I would love to ask the Minister what the budget is: what is the expectation, and how much money do we think will come from the sugary drinks levy?
I have two concerns. One is that we shall have to top the levy up from general taxation—and if that is the case I support doing it. It is a worthwhile thing to do, and we should finance it. I am also concerned, as are many people in the food and drink manufacturing industry, that we have just set a figure of £520 million. That is what we need to fund the initiative, and that is what we are going to raise. If we cannot raise it through sugary drinks we shall start looking at other products. Perhaps there is an argument for doing that, and for applying the levy to sugar across the board. I discussed that at some length with my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston). However, we are not there now, and we must be clear about what our ambition is. Perhaps we are thinking about a tax that applies to more products. I take some issue with that in principle. Nevertheless, if that is the direction of travel we must make sure we are clear.
If we are going to raise £520-odd million, I should like to know that it will go into school sports. For all the reasons that have been given by Members of different parties in the debate, that is very important. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon on obtaining the debate, but I have concerns about whether that money will be pulled through from the soft drinks levy to be spent in schools. I know that the tax is direct and hypothecated so to some extent it is out of the Minister’s hands, but perhaps he can give some commitment about how much money there will be to spend on sports in schools and on some of the great initiatives that have been mentioned. That would be helpful and would set minds at rest.
I congratulate the hon. Member for North Swindon (Justin Tomlinson) on securing today’s debate. After a fortnight spent in overindulgence, this is a particularly timely debate. Of course, part of the over-indulgence of Christmas is fizzy drinks. Like many of those present, I remember that in the past fizzy drinks were an occasional treat—a luxury at Christmas and Easter only. However, now it is fairly commonplace for people to consume a can of Coke or other juice on a daily basis. The average consumption has gone up from 45 litres per person a year to more than 210 litres. That is 22 bags of sugar—fairly horrendous.
The hon. Member for North Swindon opened the debate by presenting some challenging figures. He told us that one in three children would be obese by the time they left school. He talked about the importance of early activity, and I agree that habits formed early have a lifelong impact. I was particularly interested in the sports camps that he talked about. For many parents £12.50 would seem a good deal for childcare; however, as other hon. Members have pointed out, it might also be a barrier for some people. Perhaps we need to be more creative about how we fund such things. Possibly some of the levy could go to providing places for children who would otherwise be unable to go, because of finances. As well as causing obesity, sugary drinks affect teeth. They affect concentration in school and can have a massive impact on how well a child learns and performs in education.
I happened to take my two youngest children to the cinema on Sunday. When we were queuing up there were bucket-like containers of soft drinks and I calculated that one of those containers—not the biggest—would have 12 teaspoons of sugar in it. If any of us saw someone putting that into a cup of tea or coffee, we would be horrified. We are all aware that urgent action has to be taken here. I support the introduction of the soft drinks levy as an extremely sensible first step in tackling the crisis, but I do not believe that it is going far enough.
It is good to see the Chair of the Health Committee, the hon. Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston), here. Some of the Health Committee’s other recommendations were tougher controls on the marketing and advertising of unhealthy food and drink. I believe that would make a big difference to what young people want, or think they want, to eat. Another recommendation was early intervention to offer help to families of children affected by obesity and further research into the most effective interventions. The hon. Lady talked about the importance of nutrition, active travel and active play and how all of those play a role in tackling obesity. The hon. Member for Erewash (Maggie Throup) also shared her expertise from the Health Committee and explained that she was usually against taxes but, in this case, supports the levy because its purpose is to change habits that have been formed. I was pleased to hear her mention the “This Girl Can” campaign. I was a sports coach, as well as a teacher, for many years and was very positive about the benefits for young girls, and teenage girls in particular, of participating in sport.
My hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk (John Mc Nally) talked about the excellent work of the APPG on adult and childhood obesity, and about using the levy to train health visitors and health professionals in educating parents, both male and female, about the importance of nutrition. The hon. Member for Macclesfield (David Rutley) raised Finland’s approach to physical activity. It is possible that his suggestion that we spend more time on our feet in this place would greatly shorten proceedings. I know that there is a vote coming up, so I will try to speed up and will come back to the hon. Member for Macclesfield.
Although I have said that I welcome the creation of a soft drinks levy, in isolation it cannot address the levels of obesity that we see. I am disappointed that further restrictions on junk food, as recommended by the Health Committee, have not been developed further. I would like to see that happen—possibly we will see it during this parliament. Banning those adverts would make a big difference.
In Scotland, the obesity crisis is no different. We are committed to addressing Scotland’s excess weight—personally, and generally as a nation—and the Scottish Government have undertaken to consult on the development of Scotland’s new diet and obesity strategy in 2017. Scotland is already investing in sports facilities and ensuring that PE is provided in schools and that active schools programmes continue. Proposals to increase physical activity using the revenue are indeed welcome, and we welcome any ideas that will help to boost physical activity in schools. In Scotland, we have seen a massive investment in PE and school sports. In 2005 10% of children were doing two hours of physical activity a week; we now have 98% of children in Scotland doing two hours of PE a week, which is a massive improvement.
For me personally the most exciting development, which has been mentioned by almost everybody who has stood up, is the daily mile. It was first developed by St Ninians Primary School in Stirling because the children were too tired after the warm up in PE to do the actual lesson. It takes only 15 minutes and does not require any specialised equipment. In fact, they do not even change into their gym gear—out they go and they do their daily mile. The hon. Member for Erewash talked about the difficulties with some of the facilities available in schools. My own children do the daily mile and they just do it up and down the tarmac playground. I have said to them, “Is that not particularly boring?” They love it and they talk about being energised and feeling refreshed when they go back into school. Coming back to the points made by the hon. Member for Macclesfield, I am a keen hill walker and love the outdoors, but my children do not always share that enthusiasm and would sometimes rather sit in front of the television. They have been doing the daily mile since August, and it was really interesting over Christmas when we went hill walking—suddenly they were chasing up the hill ahead of me. I could not keep up with them. What a difference a few months of the daily mile has made to their fitness.
The Scottish Government have made a commitment that Scotland will be the first daily mile nation with a roll-out to schools, nurseries, colleges, universities and workplaces. Every school will be offered help and we already have more than 800 primary schools doing the daily mile programme, which is a massive step forward. As to the impact that that has had, St Ninians primary—the instigators—talks about the children thriving on being outdoors and of its national success in cross-country running. It says that the children are sleeping and eating better—parents know straightaway that with a bit of exercise during the day children will go down no problem at night. Children are more focused and ready to learn when they return to classroom, but most important of all, there are no overweight children in primary 1 at St Ninians, which is a massive step forward.
To finish, and not to leave the hon. Member for Colchester (Will Quince) out, he raised concerns about how the sugar tax could be spent and talked about whether, if funding sport was worth doing, it should be done through general taxation. I found myself actually agreeing with some of the sentiments that he raised but, as I said at the start, we have something that is a sensible first step. If we can put some of this levy towards some of the things mentioned today, that would be great. This is a first step in tackling obesity, but it should not be a tax that the Government want to collect. This should be a tax that we aim not to be collecting at all, like the duty on cigarettes or alcohol. We need to be raising our children as fit, active and healthy citizens now and in the future.
The hon. Member for Macclesfield (David Rutley) reminded us about the importance of outdoor recreation, so I rise to my feet very tenderly, having just participated with the MP parliamentary football team for 90 minutes over in Chelsea. We played the press lobby. It was a one-all draw, and there was no love lost between the two teams when we came off the pitch.
It is a pleasure, as ever, to serve under your chairmanship, Sir David. I congratulate the hon. Member for North Swindon (Justin Tomlinson) on securing the debate. Why he is not in Government, I do not know. I thought that he did an extraordinarily good job with disability confidence in the last Parliament. I was pleased to support that with my neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green), in putting on one of the biggest events in the north of England, and I hope that impetus carries on even though he is no longer at the Department for Work and Pensions. The hon. Member for Erewash (Maggie Throup) has already laid out the facts, and I congratulate her on her chairmanship of the all-party parliamentary group on adult and childhood obesity.
One in five children are overweight or obese before they start primary school, and the figure rises to one in three by the time they leave year 6. That puts children at serious risk of developing serious conditions such as heart and liver disease, cancer, related mental health problems—I think that the hon. Member for Macclesfield is the only Member who has mentioned mental health today—and diabetes.
Let me make an observation about health in my constituency, where I have the world-class Wythenshawe hospital, run by the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust. Its outcomes are unbelievable, but I say to consultants that my constituency has one of the worst levels of public health outcomes in England and Wales, and what we are really doing is triage in the trenches. My population is ravaged by hypertension—I am looking to the doctors in the Chamber to help me out here—chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and, in particular, type 2 diabetes, which is having all sorts of impacts on NHS costs—somebody has already pointed out the £6 billion cost to the NHS.
I am starting schemes in all those three areas and, as the hon. Member for North Swindon said, using civil society as best as I can to tackle them. With the British Heart Foundation’s work on hypertension, Diabetes UK’s diabetes groups and the British Lung Foundation’s Breathe Easy campaign, we know that we can keep people out of our A&Es, which is a huge issue this week, whichever side of the political fence hon. Members are on. People can self-help and self-medicate, which is important because by the time they go to A&E or to their doctor or health professional, it is almost too late.
I concur with what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland Central (Julie Elliott) and by the hon. Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston), who chairs the Health Committee: some areas do not have such a strong civil society and they need a leg-up from Government through the hypothecation of taxes. We have seen a link between the scale of poverty and obesity in children, in particular. The Government recognise that but have taken away the targets along with the unit that looks at child poverty, which is rocketing, and not just under this Government—it was going up previously because of the economic and financial crisis.
In 2016 the Government introduced a new levy on soft drinks through the sugar tax. In England the new levy revenue will be invested in programmes to support physical activity and balanced diets in school-aged children. I want to talk for a moment from my personal experience as a primary school teacher for 10 years. My right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Frank Field), who is not currently in his place, pointed out that children go to school for only 40 weeks a year. It is important for politicians to remember that, because I used to get frustrated at this place when I was a teacher in the classroom. We all think that we can change society by changing our schools, but it is only a small, if important, bit of how we change society.
I used to eat with the children before and after the Jamie Oliver meals came in. I patrolled the free school meals kids in particular, not because I was the sugar police—although, we did had very firm policies in my 500-place primary school about what they could have in those packages—but because I knew what the afternoon would be like if they had had a can of Coke, a load of chocolate and a packet of crisps. It is almost impossible to get really extraordinary teaching and learning going on with poor diets. Everybody in the Chamber has made the link between good food and good mental health in children.
There is a clear link between sugar intake and childhood obesity, as illustrated by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition’s 2015 report on carbohydrates and health. With 30% of the sugar in children’s diets coming from sugary drinks—the point has been made that children are consuming a bathtub of these drinks annually—action is clearly needed. The levy is expected to raise more than £500 million in the first year. It is a good policy. I will come back to why I disagree with the hon. Member for Colchester (Will Quince) in a second, but I thought that the hon. Member for Falkirk (John Mc Nally) articulated well why it is a good policy and why we should support it. The amount raised is likely to fall over time as manufacturers remove sugar from their products and the consumption of sugary drinks falls.
I disagree with the hon. Member for Colchester because he has stated that this is a nanny state-type tax, but what we now have, particularly with school budgets, which I shall come to later, is a postcode lottery. For example, look at what Britvic is already doing to avoid the sugar tax. It is changing its behaviour and remodelling the formula so that it does not pay the tax. Surely that is a good thing. Surely that is how Governments should intervene to make the world a better place, particularly for children.
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
I will, because I have attacked the hon. Gentleman twice now in this speech.
Not at all. I accept that point, but I think that the hon. Gentleman has reiterated what I was saying. We all accept that if the industry reacts and reformulates products, that will be a great thing. However, if it does so and takes the action we know it is taking over a shorter period of time, rather than a longer period, that will mean we have less money ultimately to spend on this programme.
But over the longer term people will hopefully be consuming less sugar, which I think is the key objective. However, the hon. Gentleman is right; reformulation not only will reduce the tax take and therefore be a measure of the success of Government policy—we need measures relating to public policy—but will have an impact on reducing consumption, which is just as important. He also pointed out that it is important that the impact is comprehensively evaluated, so that it can be refined and adjusted continually to keep getting public health gains.
Let us move on to schools and sport, where I have a few things to say to the Minister. Doubling the PE and sport premium fund to £320 million a year from 2017 is good news and shows a commitment from the Government that this is important. The premium has shown that it can enhance the quality of PE teaching and increase pupil engagement and participation in sport. Continued investment in sport was also highlighted by school leaders as the most important factor in maintaining quality PE provision in a Youth Sport Trust survey published last year.
I congratulate the hon. Member for Glasgow North West (Carol Monaghan) on what she said about teachers. This is not just about civil society. Tens of thousands of selfless teachers give up their time after work to run such clubs—during a decade of primary school teaching, I ran the football club and the cross-country club—and all the other clubs that are part of what is expected of schools but are not in the job description. It is right that we praise the teachers up and down the land who do that.
However, as essential as all these things are, a legacy for school sport is about looking beyond primary-age provision and competitive sport initiatives. Everyone has talked about the daily mile, outdoor recreation, walking to school and our physical environment. Increasing the number of pupils of all ages who are participating in school sport—competitive or not—across all phases of education and the amount of time that they spend doing so should be fundamental to a comprehensive strategy, yet the Government have gone backwards on the issue.
Take, for example, what my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Middleton (Liz McInnes) said about the previous coalition Government’s decision to remove £162 million of funding from school sport partnerships. Those partnerships were terrific—there is no doubt about it. The Government are embarking on breaking up our estate by privatising and nationalising it, and there are a spread of school campuses across the country. What the partnerships did was link combinations of local primaries to their secondary school, which usually had the expertise, resource and field capacity to do really joined-up work and get a system going where those clusters could really begin to make a difference.
When the money went, there was a negative impact, as opportunities for young people to participate in more school sport decreased, as the Education Committee noted. As I said to the hon. Member for Colchester, that decision has created a postcode lottery relating to good provision, because we had a national system but we now have local systems in which local schools are trying to do their best to keep up good practice. It has been particularly evident in secondary schools that do not have ring-fenced budgets for sport.
We also know that, unsurprisingly, since this Government removed in 2010 the requirement for pupils to have at least two hours of sport a week, the number of pupils taking part in sport has collapsed. From personal experience, there is an over-expectation of sport in schools. A teacher who is timetabling two hours, as I used to have to do, must think about their relevance as a classroom teacher. Sometimes we in this place do not think about that. It can take 10 minutes to get the children changed and five minutes to get them to the playground or field—if the school is lucky enough to have one—or to the hall. The curriculum focuses mainly not on physical activity but on skills, and then the children need to be warmed down, get changed and go back. I saw teachers selflessly giving up their play times and breaks so that the children could get the best hour possible.
The situation will be exacerbated by school budgets, which will be cut by £3 billion between now and 2020—an 8% cut in real terms. Schools are not the panacea for the policy. Despite the fairer funding formula, they will be reducing staff in all areas of our country in the months and years to come. I have had the indication that I should leave it there.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir David. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon (Justin Tomlinson) on securing this important debate.
Childhood obesity is a national problem. Data from Public Health England’s national child measurement programme shows that, in England, a third of children are obese or overweight by the time they leave primary school. As my hon. Friend so ably said, we run the risk of creating new social norms in which obesity is the new normal. Sugar consumption is a major factor in childhood obesity, and sugar-sweetened soft drinks are now one of the biggest sources of dietary sugar for children and teenagers. A single 330 ml can of cola can contain nine teaspoons of sugar—more than a child’s daily recommended intake of added sugar—often without any other intrinsic nutritional value. The introduction of the soft drinks industry levy is a clear indication of this Government’s commitment to addressing this vital issue.
Reducing sugar consumption alone, though, is not enough. It is also important that all children have the opportunity to engage in sport and physical activity. This debate is therefore timely, as it allows me the opportunity to set out our plan further to improve physical education and school sport using revenue generated by the levy. The Government understand that high-quality PE is a route to instilling a life with health, wellbeing and exercise at its core. That is why PE is compulsory at all four key stages in the national curriculum and why, through the primary PE and sport premium, we have invested more than £600 million since 2013 in ring-fenced funding to primary schools to improve PE and sport.
We know that that funding is making a big difference. Independent research by NatCen has found that since the introduction of the primary PE and sport premium, 87% of schools have reported that the quality of PE has increased, and the vast majority of schools have introduced new sports and extracurricular activities. I join the hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Mike Kane) in paying tribute to those teachers who go the extra mile, almost literally, to provide extra sporting activities.
The NatCen research also shows that 84% of schools also reported an increase in pupil engagement in PE during curricular time and in participation in extracurricular activities. The number of qualified specialist PE teachers in primary schools has increased by 50%, covering almost half of all schools. My hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon will undoubtedly be aware that primary schools in Wiltshire received around £1.8 million in additional funding in 2016-17, and that primary schools in Swindon received an additional £611,400.
We know that there is more to do. The soft drinks industry levy will be used to double the primary PE and sport premium to £320 million a year from September 2017. The funding will continue to be ring-fenced to assist schools in developing PE and extracurricular sport activities and to make long-term improvements that will benefit pupils joining the school in future years. I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Will Quince) that that funding is committed to 2020 and will help drive up the quality and breadth of PE and sport provision.
The increased funding will allow schools to build on the progress made through the existing premium. It will enable them to hire qualified sports coaches to work with teachers, provide existing staff with training or resources and introduce new sports and activities that encourage more pupils to be healthy and active. My hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon told us about the PE teacher Mark Draycott and his excellent initiative, Draycott sports camp, established in 2013, which operates out of Oakhurst primary school, where Mr Draycott is also a teacher.
The idea behind the camp was to create more opportunities for primary-age children of all abilities to participate in sport and physical activity during the school holidays. The programme offers extracurricular clubs after school and during the holidays. I commend my hon. Friend on championing that great work and taking the time to visit the camp last year, where I am reliably informed that he acquitted himself creditably in a netball shoot-out and a game of lacrosse. My hon. Friend pointed to the importance to schools of recruiting qualified PE teachers such as Mark Draycott. The Department continues to recruit well in physical education. In 2015-16, we recruited 1,235 new teacher trainers, against a target of 1,227.
My hon. Friends the Members for Erewash (Maggie Throup), for Totnes (Dr Wollaston) and for Macclesfield (David Rutley), as well as the hon. Member for Falkirk (John Mc Nally) and others, praised the daily mile initiative and its success in ensuring that children exercise every day. It is the brainchild of Elaine Wyllie, whom I look forward to meeting in February. My hon. Friend the Member for Totnes emphasised the importance of active travel and encouraging children to cycle to school where it is safe to do so, and I agree.
My hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield pointed to the importance of being active in the workplace. Perhaps we as MPs should sit less and stand more. We run for office, stand for election and take our seats, but of the three, the most important is obviously running for office. He asked for a Minister to meet ukactive. The Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families, my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Edward Timpson) or I would be delighted to do so.
A positive experience of sport at a young age can create a lifelong love of sport and physical participation. That is why we are focusing on primary-age children, as we want to help them develop healthy habits and a love of sport at an early age, as my hon. Friend the Member for Erewash emphasised. Secondary schools have specialist PE teachers already on the staff and can access programmes such as Sportivate and satellite clubs.
My hon. Friend the Member for Totnes raised a concern about children from disadvantaged backgrounds. We want all pupils to be healthy and active, and we know that many schools are already using their sport premium funding to target disadvantaged pupils, who are traditionally the least active. In many schools, that will include providing additional support to children who might not be able to attend after-school clubs and activities, but we know that there is more to be done, which is why we are doubling the funding from September 2017.
We have also announced that £10 million a year in revenue from the soft drinks levy will fund the expansion of healthy breakfast clubs in up to 1,600 schools from September 2017 to 2020. The programme will ensure that more children benefit from a healthy start to their school day and is a fitting accompaniment to the primary PE and sport premium.
We are anxious to ensure that schools continue to use the funding wisely and have a number of accountability measures in place, as has been mentioned in this debate. Schools are held accountable for how they spend their funding through Ofsted whole-school inspections and a requirement to report their spending plans and the impact of that spending online. Furthermore, we have updated grant conditions and guidance and continue to work with our partners to disseminate best practice and examples of innovative uses of funding to schools, ensuring that they are best placed when the doubling of the premium comes into effect.
The Government aim to reduce England’s rate of childhood obesity significantly within the next 10 years. I firmly believe that a cross-governmental approach is key to success. In addition to the soft drinks industry levy, two landmark strategies have been published in the last 12 months: the Government’s sports strategy and the childhood obesity plan. We continue to work closely with a range of other Departments to deliver those strategies.
Motion lapsed (Standing Order No. 10(6)).