Welsh government outlines minimum pricing plan for alcohol

The Welsh government has introduced plans for minimum unit pricing of alcohol.

The Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill has been put before the National Assembly by public health minister Rebecca Evans.

The government said it would “address longstanding and specific health concerns around the effects of excess alcohol consumption”.

Under the proposed legislation, the exact level of the minimum unit price would be specified in regulations made by Welsh ministers.

It would establish a local authority-led enforcement regime with powers of entry and to bring prosecutions and issue fixed penalty notices.

The Welsh government says minimum unit pricing could contribute £882 million to the Welsh economy by reducing alcohol-related illness, crime and workplace absence. 

Evans said: “There is a very clear and direct link between levels of excessive drinking and the availability of cheap alcohol. We need to take decisive action now to address the affordability of alcohol, as part of wider efforts to tackle alcohol-related harm.

“The Bill I am unveiling today will tackle excessive alcohol consumption by making it an offence for retailers to sell strong alcohol at low prices.

“It will make an important contribution to improving health outcomes, by putting prevention and early intervention at the heart of our efforts to reduce alcohol-related harm. This will undoubtedly help save lives.”

Jonathan Smith, managing partner of specialist licensing law firm Poppleston Allen said: “Any plans the Welsh government has to introduce the minimum price are likely to be dependent upon the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision on the challenge that is being made to the Scottish government’s attempt to introduce a minimum price. 

“The Supreme Court is expected to give its judgement within the next few weeks.”