Brew News

Controversial minimum pricing plans could be scrapped

Cheap booze: The government is considering banning multi-buy promotions

Cheap booze: The government is considering banning multi-buy promotions
Photo: Flickr, Mary Hutchison

Plans for minimum alcohol pricing to stamp out binge-drinking are expected to be scrapped, the Daily Mail has reported.

According to the Mail, sources have said David Cameron’s plan to ban selling alcohol at less than 45p in England and Wales is “dead in the water”.

The plans would have pushed the average family spending on alcohol up by almost £100 per year, hitting hard-working family budgets but doing little to stop binge-drinking.

Much of the Cabinet argue it would be disastrous to penalise hard-working people who drink responsibly.

The Home Office planned to set a minimum price of 45p a unit for the sale of alcohol in England and Wales to tackle problem drinking. It argued this would reduce the levels of alcohol-related crime and health issues.

It also considered banning multi-buy deals and promotions on alcohol such as two-for-one deals in supermarkets and off-licences. In November it said the plans were targeted at “harmful drinkers and irresponsible shops”.

A 45p minimum price would mean a can of strong lager could not be sold for less than £1.56 while a bottle of wine would cost at least £4.22 and a 70cl bottle of vodka would be at least £11.48.

According to the Mail, the ministers understood to have expressed doubts include senior Lib Dems, Michael Gove, Eric Pickles, Theresa May and Andrew Lansley.

However, just days ago the Alcohol Health Alliance – a coalition of 70 health organisations – were calling for the government to fast-track the minimum pricing policy.

The report published by the University of Stirling said a 50p per unit minimum was needed to stop the “avoidable epidemic” of drink-related deaths.

The group also called for labels on drinks to make clear the dangers of excessive drinking, the drink-driving limit to be lowered and products to be taxed based on their alcoholic content.

The Home Office finished its consultation on minimum pricing last month and is expected to announce before May whether any plans will go ahead.

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