However the minimum price to be introduced this November will only apply to retail prices below the cost of excise and VAT, not the cost of producing the drinks.
Thus lager would not be sold for less than 38p a can or £10.71 for a bottle of vodka. Cider would not be sold for less than £10.71 and a bottle of whisky for less than £8 or a bottle of wine for less than £2.03.
Such a move would have “negligible impact”, according to health campaigners and the UK on-trade as supermarkets rarely sell much beer at these prices.
UK Home Office research published recently found that 65 per cent of the public believe that alcohol consumption is out of control but they’re evenly split on whether the price of alcohol should rise.
Petra Meier, Professor of Public Health at Sheffield University, who carried out the research, stated that the proposals equated to fixing a 20 to 30 pence minimum cost for a unit of alcohol, considerably less than the 50 pence minimum suggested by medical experts.
Home Office Minister James Brokenshire described the new restriction to be introduced, as “an important first step” and promised to keep it under review.
Pubs of Ulster Chief Executive Colin Neill stated, “The availability of cheap alcohol has been an ongoing issue for Pubs of Ulster and the wider licensed trade due to it contributing in the misuse and irresponsible consumption of alcohol which often leads to social- and health-related problems.
“Whilst the plans are a step in the right direction in addressing these issues” he continued, “a closer look at the proposals reveal that the measures do not go far enough. The proposals set out by the Home Office are based on duty plus VAT which would mean a price of 21p per unit for beer and 28p per unit of spirits. This is despite evidence that suggests that the price should be much higher, at least 50p per unit. The proposals will protect the government’s tax revenue but it will take a higher price per unit to address the health and social problems associated with alcohol misuse.
“In Northern Ireland, Pubs of Ulster has been at the forefront of the fight for the introduction of minimum pricing and we now call upon the Assembly to go further and introduce proposals that will let Northern Ireland lead the way with effective legislation that will tackle the issue once and for all.”