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UK Government floats 40p minimum alcohol unit price

23 March 2012

The minimum alcohol price to introduced for England & Wales could be set at 40p per unit, Prime Minister David Cameron has suggested.

Mr Cameron said the Government was consulting on the actual price to be set, "but if it is 40p that could mean 50,000 fewer crimes each year and 900 fewer alcohol related deaths per year by the end of the decade".

The Scottish Government has still to confirm the price to be set under the bill now before Holyrood, but 45p per unit was the proposed level when the previous Parliament rejected the concept. The Scottish bill now has the backing of most parties in the Parliament.

A 40p level would mainly affect discounted and super-strength drinks. Mr Cameron claimed that the measure was intended to target binge drinking, which "isn't some fringe issue, it accounts for half of all alcohol consumed in this country. The crime and violence it causes drains resources in our hospitals, generates mayhem on our streets and spreads fear in our communities".

As in Scotland, health professionals and police have welcomed the proposals, while retailers have called them "simplistic" and a "tax on responsible drinkers".

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