Minimum pricing benefits 'overestimated'

03 June, 2009

The benefits of minimum alcohol pricing in Scotland have been exaggerated, according to the authors of a new study.

The report, commissioned by SABMiller and conducted by the Centre for Economics & Business Research, argues that a 40p-a-unit minimum price will not bring the benefits that had previously been claimed by the University of Sheffield’s study.

The new report estimates that:

• Harmful drinkers would reduce consumption by just 2.3%, or between one and two units per week on average

• Consumers would spend over £80 million more per year for alcohol

• The value to individuals of improved health and job prospects would be less than £30 million per year

• The savings to wider society including NHS and policing costs and costs to victims of crime would be around £6 million per year (or 0.06 percent of the total NHS Scotland annual budget).

Ben Read, one of the report’s authors and managing economist at CEBR, said: “The figures do not present a compelling case once you take into account the substantial additional costs to consumers and the fact that heavier drinkers are least responsive to price increases.

“Our findings raise serious questions about the robustness of the Scottish Government’s evidence base for minimum pricing. We would suggest further research is done before a policy of this kind is considered.”

The full CEBR report, published today, provides estimates of the economic impact of the introduction of minimum pricing across Britain and can be accessed at www.cebr.com.




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Richard Hemming MW: beware inverse snobbery

Few things can bring communal pleasure so intimately as wine. Apart from a hot tub, perhaps. Sport can trigger mass jubilation, film gives us shared empathy, but wine has a nigh-unique ability to bestow conviviality among us through a shared bottle – which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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