Scotland confirms plans for minimum price for alcohol at 50p per unit

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Minimum price, Scotland

Scotland confirms plans for minimum price for alcohol at 50p per unit
Scotland has confirmed that it wants to set the minimum price for alcohol at 50p per unit.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said that, at this level, the price was equivalent to the 45p per unit set in 2010 after taking account of inflation. She also said that setting the price at this level would have significant health and social benefits.

Sturgeon said: “Cheap alcohol comes at a price and now is the time to tackle the toll that Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol is taking on our society.

“Too many Scots are drinking themselves to death. The problem affects people of all walks of life.

“It’s no coincidence that as affordability has increased, alcohol-related hospital admissions have quadrupled, and it is shocking that half of our prisoners now say they were drunk when they committed the offence. It’s time for this to stop.

“Introducing a minimum price per unit will enable us to tackle these problems, given the clear link between affordability and consumption.

“Since 45p was first proposed as the minimum price 18 months ago, we have seen inflation of around five per cent. 

A minimum price of 50p takes this into account and will achieve a similar level of public health benefits to what 45p would have achieved in 2010.”

The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill is shortly to start the final stage of the parliamentary process.
The Bill looks to set a minimum price for a unit of alcohol as a condition of licence.

It also sets the formula for calculating the minimum price (based on the strength of the alcohol, the volume of the alcohol and a price per unit of alcohol).

WSTA interim Chief Executive Gavin Partington responded to the news: "Hard pressed consumers in Scotland can now see the true impact of the Scottish Government's policy. A minimum unit price of 50p will punish the majority of responsible consumers with higher prices, hitting the poorest hardest and will do nothing to tackle the root causes of alcohol misuse.

"The Government's own report shows that 73%* of all alcohol prices in the off-trade would rise overnight as a result of a 50p minimum unit price.  That means that a bottle of wine currently selling for £3.33 would rise in price to £5.06 and a bottle of vodka from £11.10 to £13.13.  

"Rather than penalising the responsible majority, we believe that alcohol policy should be targeted at problem drinkers."

A Molson Coors spokesman said: "We have been consistent in supporting a UK-wide ban on ‘below-cost-selling’ that includes VAT, duty and an average cost of production. At 50p per unit, around 70% of all beer prices would increase in price in the Scottish Off Trade.

"We want to work with Government to build respect for alcohol and, as part of this, we need to address problem prices without punishing responsible drinking. Extremely low prices – those sold below cost – do not build respect for alcohol. However, shoppers should still expect to find a competitive marketplace with brands at good value.

"We believe the proposed level of 50p per unit is out of proportion with the Scottish Government’s “targeted policy” commitment to address alcohol harm however we welcome their commitment to review its impact."

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