Responsibility Deal lies in tatters

The largest local authority in the UK has become the latest organisation to leave the Responsibility Deal in protest over the scrapping of minimum unit pricing.

The deal was signed between the Government and the drinks industry to foster a culture of responsible drinking.

But Birmingham City Council has walked away from the deal after lambasting the Government for U-turns on pledges to introduce minimum unit pricing on alcohol and plain packaging on cigarettes.

It joins the Faculty of Public Health, Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Forum in quitting the Responsibility Deal, which is now dominated by representatives from the food and drink industry.

Instead Birmingham will come up with its own plans to combat alcohol abuse, smoking and obesity.

Cllr Steve Bedser, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “We’re withdrawing from the deal because we feel the Government has already broken the deal and is not acting responsibly.

“The two things that are driving this are our concerns about the Government’s failure to implement plain packaging and the failure to tackle cheap super strength alcohol. These failures will lead to more lives tragically being lost in the city.”

Dr Adrian Phillips, Birmingham’s director of public health, added: “I am really disappointed with the lack of progress with the responsibility deal across the country.

“Birmingham council signed up to the initiative when it was first announced but we now believe that there is no alternative but to try a different approach because it clearly hasn’t worked.”

The deal, signed in 2011, did not include minimum unit pricing or plain packaging.

But ADPH president Dr Janet Atherton said: “We are very disappointed that the government has failed to move forward with the introduction of minimum unit pricing for alcohol and standardised packaging of tobacco products.

“The ADPH executive has considered its position with regard to involvement with the Responsibility Deal – and has concluded that it  should withdraw from involvement with the Responsibility Deal in its entirety.”

Related articles: