14 March 2018: Assembly Members in Wales backed minimum unit pricing in a vote yesterday.
Following a debate on the general principles of a bill to introduce minimum unit pricing, 46 Assembly Members backed the bill, with just 7 voting against the bill.
The vote came shortly after new research from Alcohol Concern Cymru showed how minimum unit pricing will drive down consumption of some the drinks most linked with harmful drinking, with those currently sold most cheaply relative to their alcoholic strength going up in price most sharply.
A price survey carried out in March by Alcohol Concern Cymru has found that alcohol can currently be purchased in Wales for just under 21p per unit. This means that 14 units – the maximum amount the UK’s Chief Medical Officers recommend any of us drink in a week – is available for just £2.87.
The cheapest, strongest alcohol on sale, mostly super-strength ciders and lagers, will increase in price as a result of MUP, including:
- Karpackie 9% Lager: currently on sale in Wales for £1.69 a can, and set to rise to £2.25 under MUP
- Crofters Apple Cider: currently £2.05 for 2 litres, set to go up to £5.00
- White Storm Cider: now on sale for £2.99 for 2 litres, would cost £7.50 under MUP
- Frosty Jack’s Cider: available for £5.19 for 3 litres, would have to more than double in price to £11.25
Andrew Misell, Director of Alcohol Concern Cymru, said:
‘These very strong beer and cider brands are sold extremely cheaply relative to their alcoholic strength. That’s why they attract people who drink very heavily.
‘We know that price is a major driver of how much people drink, and the minimum price measure that’s being debated in the Senedd today is intended to drive down consumption by making the cheapest drinks less affordable. Alongside decent services to help dependent drinkers get their lives back together, MUP will be a major step towards reducing harmful drinking.’
Alcohol Concern’s research in 2011 found that most drinkers of super-strength cider were either alcohol-dependent or underage, and this finding was backed up by research in Scotland in 2016. The homelessness charity Thames Reach has estimated that between 60% and 80% of deaths amongst its clients are directly attributable to super-strength alcoholic drinks.