WSTA slams 45p minimum unit plans

The WSTA has slammed UK Government proposals for a 45p minimum unit price for alcohol, branding the strategy untargeted and unfair.

The 45p baseline unit price is one of five measures to “cut crime, save lives and reduce alcohol consumption” that will be floated during a 10-week consultation.

Miles Beale, WSTA Chief Executive, said: "It is hard to understand why the Government is pushing ahead with the consultation now, when there is a wall of opposition in Europe, a legal challenge in Scotland, a lack of any real evidence to support minimum unit pricing, opposition from consumers and concerns raised from within Cabinet itself.

“Minimum unit pricing and the proposed restrictions to promotions are wholly untargeted and will unfairly punish millions of consumers and businesses in the UK, while doing nothing to tackle the root causes of alcohol misuse or associated crime and disorder."

The minimum unit price of 45p has been upped from the 40p mooted in March, but still falls short of the 50p proposed in Scotland.

The other measures devised by the Home Office are: a ban on multi-buy promotions, a review of the mandatory licensing conditions, a new health-related objective for alcohol licensing and the cutting of red tape for responsible businesses.

Damian Green, policing minister, said: “These measures are not about stopping responsible drinking but designed to tackle the minority who cause alcohol-related crime and disorder in our local communities.

“The evidence is clear - the availability of cheap alcohol contributes to harmful levels of drinking. It can't be right that it is possible to purchase a can of beer for as little as 20p.

“We have already introduced early morning restriction orders to curb alcohol sales, a late night levy to ensure those selling alcohol help pay towards the costs of policing and we have made it easier for local authorities to tackle problematic licensed premises.”

Beale added: “Alcohol misuse is a serious and complex problem for a small number of people in this country. We recognise this and are committed to tackling alcohol misuse – but there is no silver bullet.  A wide range of policies are required to address problem drinking, including improving education, better enforcement and building on what already works.”