SNP government set to confirm minimum alcohol price for Scotland

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The FINANCIAL — The SNP government in Scotland is expected to confirm that it will set the minimum price per unit of alcohol at 50p, as opposed to the 45p originally suggested.


Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon is set to make the move following a fresh report from Sheffield University calculating the impact of the plans, according to the BBC.

The plans, designed to reduce alcohol-related hospital admissions, would mean that the ­cheapest bottle of wine would cost £4.69, while a four-pack of lager would cost at least £3.52.

According to Caterer and Hotelkeeper, the government in England and Wales set out similar proposals in its alcohol strategy following the March Budget, although the minimum alcohol price there is expected to be set at a lower rate of 40p.

Dr John Holmes, who was part of the project team at Sheffield University, told BBC Radio Scotland the move would have a significant impact on drinking habits.

He said: "We found that a 50p minimum price would lead to an overall reduction in consumption of 5.5%. So harmful drinkers' consumption would fall by more than 10%, whereas moderate drinkers would see their consumption fall by just 2.5%.

"In terms of how much extra spending that would mean, harmful drinkers would have to spend over £120 extra a year on their alcohol, whereas moderate drinkers would spend just £8 a year more."

A final vote on the Alcohol Minimum Pricing Bill in Holyrood is expected later in this Parliament. Sturgeon promised to release details on what the minimum price would be before the vote went ahead.

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Brewing giant Molson Coors criticised the expected 50p-per-unit price. 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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