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Minimum Unit Pricing for Alcohol

The long-awaited Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012 has now come into force this month, following a number of years of legal challenges to the legislation in order to tackle consumption of alcohol in Scotland.

Any extra revenue generated via the minimum pricing will go to each individual business rather than the Scottish Government, as the minimum pricing is not an additional tax on alcohol – the purpose of this legislation is for health reasons. The Scottish Government has claimed that minimum pricing will save approximately 400 lives over the next five years and lead to around 8,000 fewer alcohol-related hospital admissions.

The new minimum price is now 50p per unit of alcohol. Recent analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies estimated that up to 70% of shop-bought alcohol across Britain was priced at below 50p a unit, prior to this legislation coming into force.

Pubs, clubs and restaurants are unlikely to be affected the new laws, as opposed to supermarkets and other shop with off-licence sales, who will be. One knock-on effect of the legislation may well be that some shops no longer stock many cheaper brands, in order to avoid their customers being affected by significant price hikes.

It remains to be seen how businesses and the drinks industry overall will be affected by this legislation, but one thing is for sure – this experiment from the Scottish Government will be watched very closely by the rest of the UK and further afield in the coming months and years.

If you would like to discuss minimum pricing and how your business may be affected, please contact our Licensing Team on 01383 721621.

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