Sturgeon calls last orders on cheap drinks – SNP could slap 25% rise on booze tax

Jacob Rees-Mogg hits out at taxes imposed by SNP in Scotland

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If the SNP are elected in May, the Scottish Government will undertake a review into the 50p-a-unit minimum price. In a written Holyrood question, Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour candidate for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, asked the Scottish Government what “plans it has to review the unit price of alcohol, in light of its commitment to do so after two years of implementation.”

Mairi Gougeon, Scotland’s Public Health Minister, responded: “Work to review the minimum unit price level was paused in order to respond to the urgent demands of handling the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

“This has restarted in order to review the level in the course of this year.”

Under the Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP), initial levels of 50p were set in 2012 but were not implemented until 2018 after a lengthy legal challenge.

The Express understands the rate could rise as high as 62p if the price increases with inflation under Scottish Government proposals, a 25 percent increase.

Under the Nationalists policy, beverages that possess more units of alcohol have a higher price than drinks that contain less alcohol.

Drinks that have been most affected include strong white cider, own-brand vodka and gin, and super-strength lager.

A can of 5 percent lager containing 2 units of alcohol has to cost at least £1, and a bottle of 12 percent wine containing 9 units has to cost at least £4.50.

However, the cheapest bottle of wine could rise to £6.20 and a six-pack of lager would cost at least £10.30 if a 25 percent increase is applied.

In England, the average cost of a six-pack of beer is around £5-6, depending on the brand.

Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said MUP was the most “effective policy measures to reduce alcohol consumption and harm.”

She added: “The early results of the evaluation show encouraging signs that the policy is having the intended effect of reducing alcohol consumption.

“But the impact of the current 50p rate is likely to have been eroded by inflation since the legislation was first approved in 2012.

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“Now is the time to review the data, and recalibrate the price to ensure we maximise the benefits of this life-saving policy.”

Donald Cameron, Scottish Conservative health spokesman, added: “We supported the introduction of minimum unit pricing, with the important caveat that it should be reviewed if it was proven to be ineffective.”

“The Scottish Government must ensure it will explore all the evidence to show the effects of this policy.

“It is imperative that the SNP use this review to ensure appropriate measures are in place that will ease any pressure on our NHS arising from irresponsible alcohol consumption.”

The latest figures from the National Records of Scotland reveal the number of alcohol-specific deaths has decreased by 10 percent, from 1,136 in 2018 to 1,020 in 2019.

These figures show the first substantial decrease in the number of alcohol-specific deaths in Scotland since 2012.


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