A minimum price of 45p per unit for the sale of alcohol in England and Wales has been proposed by the government, as part of an effort to target the countries’ problem drinking.
It is thought the new government plan will force the average family drinks bill to soar by almost £100 a year.
A figure of 40p per unit was suggested back in March; however, the 5p-increased figure was announced last week as part of a ten-week consultation on the plan. Ministers are also considering banning multi-buy promotions such as buy-one-get-one-free in supermarkets and off licenses.
The recommendation is unlikely to affect bars and pubs, with even those at the low end of the market selling well above the 45p per unit price. The aim is to change the cost of heavily discounted drinks sold in shops and supermarkets, not the price of drinks in pubs.
Many bar owners are welcoming a potential change in the behavior of drinkers, hoping it will diminish the ‘pre-loading’ culture which has become the ‘thing to do’ in Britain over the years.
By cheap, shop brought alcohol becoming more expensive, bar owners are hoping consumers may prefer to drink in bars instead of at home because the difference in price between drinking at home and drinking in bars and pubs will be lessened.
These changes are hoped to save hundreds of lives and millions of pounds of public money each year by reducing the levels of ill health and crime related to alcohol.
There has been opposition to the plan however, with the European Convention warning the prime minister that putting a minimum price for alcohol is illegal and the drinks industry claiming the 45p threshold would hit consumers the hardest without addressing any underlying problems.
Research carried out by Sheffield University for the government shows a 45p minimum would reduce the consumption of alcohol by 4.3%, leading to 2,000 fewer deaths and 66,000 hospital admissions after 10 years.