ALCOHOL: Lib Dem leader calls for 65p per unit minimum price

By Harry Bell

At the start of Alcohol Awareness Week, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today called for a 15p increase in the minimum unit price to 65p as he warned that Scottish Government inaction had allowed inflation to erode the impact of the original policy.

A Public Health Scotland report into alcohol sales published in June, showed that in 2019:

  • 24% of all adults reported exceeding the safe weekly drinking guideline of 14 units a week, down from just over a third (34%) in 2003.
  • 1,020 deaths were described as “wholly attributable to alcohol”
  • 23,685 people were admitted to hospital with an alcohol-related diagnosis, with some requiring more than one stay in hospital.

Mr Cole-Hamilton, pictured right,  said:  “Alcohol misuse can wreck lives. Even today we are seeing an average of 20 people per week die due to alcohol misuse. That’s terrible news for individuals, families and communities.

“Experts have suggested that raising the minimum unit price to 65p in line with the original ambition of the policy would cut alcohol misuse and reduce the pressure on our health and justice systems. Once this step has been taken Scottish Liberal Democrats are keen to see the minimum unit price of alcohol linked to inflation so that the value of the policy does not decrease over time

“This would send a clear signal about our resolve to win the battle against the bottle. Nicola Sturgeon should come back to Parliament with proposals to take this forward.”

Meanwhile, responding to reports in The Ferret which reveal that environmental protection officers found Scotland to be “way behind” England in solving its sewage spill problem, with Scottish Water presiding over an “unacceptably high” number of leaks.

And that senior SEPA staff are hesitant to review Scottish Water’s operating licences in bulk in case it suggested the watchdog’s enforcement had not been strong enough.

Water courses such as this, the Spardie Linn, are spoiled by sewage discharges into them.

Scottish Liberal Democrat climate emergency spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP said:  “Just days after SNP MPs lambasted the UK Government for voting to allow raw sewage into rivers, it emerges that their Scottish Government has a very smelly problem of its own.  Neither the SNP nor the Conservatives can be trusted with Scotland’s waterways.

“It’s particularly troubling that the environment watchdog’s first concern wasn’t for the health of our streams, rivers and communities but for their own reputation.

“The environment minister should come to Parliament to deliver a statement on what is being done to clear up this sewage leak crisis.”


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