Alcohol Scotland: Ministers ‘poised to hike minimum unit price' of alcohol by 30 per cent

The minimum unit price for alcohol in Scotland is expected to increase from 50p to 65p

Ministers are poised to hike the minimum unit price (MUP) of alcohol in Scotland by 30 per cent.

A statement in Holyrood on Thursday is expected to confirm the MUP will increase from 50p to 65p from early May. This would mean the lowest price for a bottle of wine would rise from £4.88 to £6.34.

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Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie, who has campaigned on the issue, said: "I'm glad ministers have listened. If the unit price doesn't move with inflation, the value of the policy is eroded."

Public Health Scotland said MUP had reduced deaths directly caused by alcohol consumptionPublic Health Scotland said MUP had reduced deaths directly caused by alcohol consumption
Public Health Scotland said MUP had reduced deaths directly caused by alcohol consumption

He added: "More than 20 people a week in Scotland die due to alcohol misuse, so we need to take steps to stop alcohol wrecking lives and communities. That's before you even get to the pressure that it imposes on our health and justice systems.”

The move was first reported by The Guardian and the Scottish Sun.

The Scottish Government had previously consulted on increasing the MUP to 65p. At the time, Elena Whitham, the minister for drugs and alcohol policy, 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 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.”

Last year, Public Health Scotland said MUP had reduced deaths directly caused by alcohol consumption by an estimated 13.4 per cent.

Clare Beeston, who led the evaluation of the policy, said: “We have seen reductions in deaths and hospital admissions directly caused by sustained, high levels of alcohol consumption, and this is further evidence that those drinking at harmful and hazardous levels have reduced their consumption.”

She said the evidence showed MUP “has had a positive impact on improving health outcomes, including alcohol-related health inequalities, and can play a part in addressing the preventable harm that affect far too many people, families and communities”.

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Alison Douglas, chief executive of campaign group Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “Alcohol Focus Scotland and others have been campaigning for the minimum unit price to be increased to at least 65p for some time.

"MUP has been proven to save lives and reduce hospital admissions, particularly in our most deprived communities. With the recent rise in alcohol deaths, and the impact of the pandemic, to keep it at the current level would mean the positive effects we’ve seen will be reversed, condemning hundreds more people to unnecessary suffering and loss.

"The Scottish Government should also ensure that the increased revenue to retailers from MUP should go back into the public purse to fund alcohol treatment, support and prevention.”

Dr Alastair MacGilchrist, chair of campaign group Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems, is due to give evidence to the health, social care and sport committee on the efficacy of MUP on Tuesday.



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