The government will ban the sale of alcohol below cost in England and Wales from April 2012, it has announced.

The minimum price will be set at duty plus VAT, which works out around 21p per unit of beer and 28p per unit of spirits.

The government had pledged to ban below-cost sales as part of the coalition agreement.

Home Office Minister James Brokenshire described the move as “an important first step” which will prevent around 7,000 crimes a year, 2,000 of them violent.