As chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Misuse, I welcome the Government’s consultation on the Alcohol Strategy and its intention to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol.
Alcohol misuse and irresponsible drinking costs the taxpayer £21billion a year. Last year alone, there were 1.2 million alcohol-related hospital admissions and nearly 1 million alcohol-related violent crimes. The Government’s Alcohol Strategy sets out measures it believes will tackle irresponsible drinking.
Among the measures the Government is consulting on is the proposal to set a minimum unit price for alcohol of 45p. At full effect, the University of Sheffield estimates this measure will lead to 2,000 fewer deaths, 66,000 fewer hospital admissions and 24,000 fewer crimes a year after 10 years.
This measure is not about targeting responsible drinkers, or the cost of going to the pub. For instance, a minimum unit price of 45p will mean a pint with 2 units will cost a minimum of 90p and a bottle of wine will cost a minimum of around £4.50, well below the retail price in a pub. But it will help crackdown on those who “pre-load” on cheap booze sold in supermarkets before heading out into town, causing anti-social behaviour and making many of our town centres no-go areas at the weekend.
The Government is welcoming views on its proposals by 6 February 2013, which can be submitted to the public consultation via the Home Office website.