Minimum price to cut consumption by 6% a year: report

A 45p-per-unit minimum price coupled with total ban on discounting in the off-trade could cut consumption by 6% in its first year, according to an updated forecast by the University of Sheffield.

The new report on minimum pricing, commissioned by the Scottish government, said a 50p-per-unit minimum price and a discount ban would cut alcohol-related hospital admissions by 8,600 a year, or 13.3%, and alcohol-related deaths by 427.

It found there would be less effect on crime – a 50p-per-unit minimum price would cut crimes by just 2.9%. Over 10 years, these reductions could save the state £1.2 billion.

The study predicted that consumer spending on alcohol would increase by 5.2% with a 50p-per-unit minimum price, in spite of reduced volumes, and forecast that retailer revenue would grow by £125 million per year.

It continued to claim that harmful drinkers would be most affected by the moves, while moderate drinkers would be affected very little. A 50p minimum price and a discount ban would cost moderate drinkers just £11 more a year, or 22p per week, it said.

The WSTA said the new report shows up the “weakness of the model”.

Interim chief executive Gavin Partington said: “Their model at 45p-per-unit is forecasting in the first year a 6% reduction in overall consumption of alcohol and 60 fewer alcohol-related deaths. But when you look back at the Scottish government’s own statistics, in 2009-10 they showed a 7% reduction in alcohol consumption and 36 more deaths.

“So why is it that this model forecast produces a correlation between overall alcohol consumption and rates of death? We have been shown that the correlation is not there.” 

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