Views sought on increased level of 65p for alcohol in Scotland

Drugs and Alcohol Policy Minister Elena Whitham and LibDems’ Willie Rennie.

By Bill Heaney

A proposal to increase the Minimum Unit Price of alcohol by 15 pence per unit to 65 pence is included in a new consultation on the future of the public health policy.

Views are being sought on whether to continue the Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) legislation beyond the current term which ends next April, and the level at which it should be set.

Locally, a pint of Guinness can be bought in most local pubs for less than a fiver while at Cameron House Hotel on Loch Lomondside, I am told it costs as much as £7.

A Scottish Government report on the operation and effect of MUP in its first five years, an Interim Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment and a report on public attitudes to the policy have also been published. These papers assess the success of the measure so far and look at the future impact on health and industry sectors if it is continued and the potential effects of different minimum price levels.

This builds on Ministerial engagement with business and health stakeholders which has taken place throughout the summer.

Drugs and Alcohol Policy Minister Elena Whitham said:  “The recent rise in alcohol-specific deaths highlights the need for more to be done to tackle alcohol-related harm.

“Our world-leading Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) policy is one of the measures we know can make a difference. Recent research estimated it has saved hundreds of lives, likely averted hundreds of alcohol-attributable hospital admissions each year – and also contributed to reducing health inequalities. It is one of a range of measures we have in place across prevention and treatment services to reduce alcohol harm.

“We believe the proposals set out in this consultation strike a reasonable balance between public health benefits and any effects on the alcoholic drinks market and subsequent impact on consumers, but we want to hear from all sides and urge everyone to take the time to respond.”

Responding to the news that the Scottish Government is publishing plans to increase the minimum unit price of alcohol to 65p from next April, Scottish Liberal Democrat communities spokesperson Willie Rennie MSP said:  “Scottish Liberal Democrats were the first party to call for this change, so I am glad that ministers have listened. If MUP doesn’t move with inflation then the ambition of the policy is eroded.

“More than 20 people a week are dying in Scotland due to alcohol misuse. This is shocking and preventable, so we need to take steps to stop alcohol wrecking lives and communities.”


Alcohol: Review of the minimum unit pricing and continuation consultation

Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012: Report on the operation and effect of the minimum pricing provisions 2018 – 2023

Interim Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) Continuation and future pricing.

Public attitudes to Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol in Scotland

Legislation setting the price was laid in March 2018 and approved in Parliament in April 2018.

The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012 contains a ‘sunset clause’ which sets out that the minimum pricing provisions expire at the end of the six year period (which ends on 30 April 2024) unless Scottish Ministers make provision to continue the legislation by laying an Order in Parliament.

Top picture: Bill Heaney, Maire Mullis and Rodger Scullion enjoy a drink together.

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