Government considers 40p alcohol premium to prevent crime
Home secretary Theresa May admits the possibility of a minimum price of 40p per unit on alcohol in a bid to tackle increasing drunken crimes. The new legislation would be implemented in England and Wales, and would prevent supermarkets and other retailers from offering “multi-buy discount deals”.
The government claims the 40p minimum could lead to a reduction of crimes by 50,000 a year whilst also avoiding 9,000 alcohol-related deaths over the next decade.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Theresa May said: “The evidence – the international evidence but also the historic evidence – is that if you need to deal with problems that are caused by excessive consumption of alcohol, what you have to address is the price of it.
“This is aimed at…dealing with this culture which means that some people think that a good night out is actually pre-loading; so drinking at home, getting drunk at home on cheap alcohol, going out, drinking some more, and then causing problems and mayhem in our town centres.
“What we do want to do is to affect the cheapest end of alcohol where those sorts of offers enable people to really do this pre-loading. So many people now just get drunk before they go out; that’s what causes the problems in our town centres.”
Mr Cameron acknowledged that the strategy will not be “universally popular” but insisted that the move is necessary to stop the “scourge of violence” caused by binge drinking.
However, the government may have to deal with some legal challenges after it was revealed the move could discriminate against some drink producers.
A spokesman for the European Commission warned Britain about the policy, saying: “Minimum tax rates put all products on equal footing from a market perspective, whereas minimum prices can increase the profit margin of products with the lowest production cost,” citing that the plan may be against the European trade rules stating there should be “no discrimination between imported goods and domestic goods.”
Based on the current development of the strategy, a bottle of wine will cost no less than £3.60, a can of larger at least 80p and a bottle of spirits between £10.40 and £11.20, costing the average drinker between £21 and £23 a year while heavy drinkers will pay as much as £135 extra a year.