Kebab houses, burger bars, fish-and-chip shops and any new business seeking a licence to serve takeaway food would have to pay the levy before being allowed to open their doors to the public. The charge would also apply to fast-food giants such as Burger King, Pizza Hut and McDonald’s.

The scheme is being launched in Oldham – where one in four children are obese compared to less than one in five children nationally.

The “fat tax” would be spent on specific programmes aimed at promoting healthy eating among children.

Certain restaurants and chains would be exempt from the charge, providing they can prove their fare is healthy.

Chris Gorman at the Forum of Private Business says he hopes this “dubious tax on business” doesn’t spread beyond Oldham.

“It’s all well and good for the council to claim the money raised will be spent on promoting healthy eating, but by using the same logic you could invent a potentially unlimited list of other new business taxes to pay for things which should be funded through general taxation,” he says.
 
“As always, smaller businesses will be the ones who suffer the most as a result of this. Big fast food chains like McDonalds will barely notice the tax on their balance sheets but independent takeaways and cafes will be forced to put up their prices and could be put out of business.”

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