Licensing officers oppose minimum unit price plans

28 February, 2013

The officers that would be charged with enforcing the Government’s planned minimum unit price on alcohol have criticised the scheme.

After contacting its members, The Institute of Licensing, made up of licensing officers, lawyers and police officers, responded to the Government’s consultation on the strategy.

It said: “Very few if any responses supported the proposed minimum unit pricing of 45p. Responses were split between those who felt that any MUP should be 50p per unit to be consistent with proposals in Scotland and because in their views the higher MUP would have a bigger impact in relation to the Government’s desired outcomes.

“Others considered that the introduction of a MUP would have no effect at all on chronic drinkers or would have the effect of making them seek alternatives substances, would penalise all other drinkers, particularly those on low incomes and may be illegal in any case.”

It added: “Social attitudes have enormous influence on behaviour and society at present is overly tolerant of excessive drinking.

“These plans are not balanced in any way by proposals aimed at encouraging a cultural shift towards drinking lower strength or less alcohol or changing social tolerance towards binge drinking as a whole.”

It also cast doubt on whether the scheme would address the problem of binge drinking: “Problem drinkers will source alcohol no matter what the price.”

The officers also attacked proposals to introduce a ban on mutli-buy promotions on alcoholic drinks.

“It is difficult to see the benefit to the proposed ban as set out in the table,” the Institute said. “For every banned promotion, there is a way for the retailer to make the overall purchase cost the same. For example, consumers looking to buy bottles of wine might well choose to buy 2 bottles or more on a permitted half-price offer negating the desired impact.”

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