MPs call for minimum unit pricing and lower drink-drive limit

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Push for change: new alcohol pricing rules urged for England
Push for change: new alcohol pricing rules urged for England

Related tags Minimum unit pricing Crime

Government will look at whether minimum unit pricing and a reduction in the drink-drive limit in England will help tackle drink-related crimes and health problems, despite rejecting similar plans in 2013.

Health ministers will continue to look at evidence from Public Health England (PHE) suggesting the only solution to cut booze-driven crime and health problems is by implementing minimum unit pricing, like in Wales and Scotland.

Statistics used to convince the Government of a rule change include the loss of 167,000 working hours to alcohol; suggested early death and disability in those aged 15 to 49; and increased assaults on police officers and medical staff.

Some MPs already support a change, including Conservative Fiona Bruce, who said: “Alcohol-fuelled behaviour resulting in criminality, fires or accidents is adding intolerable, yet often unnecessary, pressure on vital resources and to the work of our emergency services."

‘Drink-driving accidents’

The Congleton MP added: “And it's not just emergency staff who suffer; as this report describes, many other people are impacted too, from taxpayers who foot the bill to patients who can't be seen promptly or, worse, those innocent people killed in avoidable drunk-driving accidents.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health said no one wanted to interfere with the rights of adults to enjoy a drink responsibly, but the PHE report showed the abuse of alcohol can cause significant issues.

However, the trade has defended against the introduction of minimum unit pricing, arguing it is an “untested policy” built on modelling and forecasting.

The Alcohol Information Partnership said: “Minimum unit pricing is an untested policy built on modelling and forecasting. The evidence behind its claims is poor and controversial.”

Laws passed

In October, the Scottish courts overruled a challenge to the implementation of minimum unit pricing​ of 50p per unit in Scotland, after laws were passed in 2012.

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers slammed the move, describing it as an “indiscriminate financial burden”.

Figures from data agency Nielsen suggest the spirits category would be hit the hardest out of any other alcohol category as a result of minimum unit pricing.

In Scotland, for instance, a minimum of 50% of alcohol sold in Scotland will not meet the requirements.

Related topics Legislation Health & safety

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