Published on December 18th, 2012 | by Dean Carr
Cabinet Opposition to Minimum Pricing Revealed
A Cabinet backlash has been revealed in government over minimum pricing legislation. Currently, a ten week consultation is being held over the possibility of introducing a minimum price 45p per unit of alcohol.
Senior Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have voiced concerns over the plans, suggesting that minimum pricing is an ‘illiberal’ measure that will hit the poor hardest. Sceptics reportedly include the Home Secretary, the Education Secretary and the Deputy Prime Minister, as well as the former health secretary.
Recent opposition from within the industry
SABMiller, the brewing giant, have this month released research focusing on the impact on consumption, alcohol expenditure and disposable incomes across a number of demographic groups. The paper concludes that the current minimum pricing plan would cost consumers an extra £659million a year, while doing little to change the drinking patterns of problem drinkers. The current proposed unit price minimum of 45p would impact poor people and young people far harder. Because of these demographic relations, the plans would have far greater impact in the north of England.
Opposition from large brewers is not inevitable. A number of prominent brewing companies in the UK have come forward to support a minimum pricing scheme.
A higher minimum price?
The British Medical Association (BMA) Cymru Wales has long campaigned for a minimum unit price for alcohol. They welcome the recent publication of the UK Government’s consultation on a minimum unit price for alcohol, while lobbying for a higher, 50p minimum unit price. The BMA has argued that evidence shows that reducing the affordability of the cheapest, strongest alcohol will have significant health and social effects, depending on the level that is set. The SABMiller report suggests that a minimum unit price of 60p or even 70p would be required to have a real financial impact on most drinkers.