Government proposals could see a minimum alcohol unit price introduced. Photo credit: Cathal McNaughton/PA Wire.

Norwich MP backs plans for minimum alcohol pricing – what do you think?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
11.46 AM

Controversial plans to introduce minimum alcohol prices have today been announced – and we want to know what you think.

The coalition government wants to tackle “drunken mayhem” on Britain’s streets by bringing in a higher-than-expected price of 45p per unit.

Multi-buy deals in supermarkets and off-licences could also be banned, under proposals being put out for consultation.

Home Secretary Theresa May is outlining the package in an effort to “turn the tide” on a culture of irresponsible drinking estimated to cost the taxpayer £21 billion annually.

What do you think of the plans? Will they help curb irresponsible drinking or hit modest consumers hardest?

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith has given her backing to the plans, which she worked on during her time as Treasury minister.

She said: “A minimum price is great news for Norwich pubs because it alters the balance with the off trade including action against cheap supermarket booze. It will help turn the tide against irresponsible ‘pre-loading’ which we see plenty of in Norwich on a Friday or Saturday night.

“Norwich should stay a great place for a safe night out, with less alcohol-fuelled crime and disorder - and less pressure on A&E.

“It is not about stopping sensible, responsible drinking, or penalising responsible shops, community pubs or sensible off licenses.

“I am proud to have played a part in getting this done. People want less irresponsible drinking and this is a good step.

“I now urge Norwich pubs and anyone interested to reply to the consultation and help make sure that the view from Norwich is heard so that the details can be finalised. I’ll be speaking up for the plan.”

Officials said it was currently possible to buy a can of lager for as little as 20p, and a two-litre bottle of cider for £1.69, and said the consultation was targeted at “harmful drinkers, problem pubs and irresponsible shops”, not those who “enjoy a quiet drink or two”.

More than a million crimes and 1.2 million hospital admissions were linked to alcohol last year.

The Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA), made up of 32 medical and counselling organisations, welcomed the step.

But chairman Professor Sir Ian Gilmore said the minimum unit price should be 50p rather than 45p.

“The evidence shows us that heavy drinkers and young drinkers are more affected by higher alcohol prices than moderate drinkers,” he said.

“According to the University of Sheffield, a minimum unit price of 50p would reduce total alcohol consumption by 6.7%, saving around 20,000 hospital admissions in the first year.”

However, the drinks industry warned that the 45p threshold would hit modest consumers hard, without addressing the underlying problems.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, said: “While the Government may be consulting on 45p consumers should be aware that the final minimum unit price could be much higher than that.”

What do you think of the plans? Will they help curb irresponsible drinking or hit modest consumers hardest?