The cost of buying alcohol in Scotland is set to rise again after SNP ministers confirmed a new minimum unit price of 65p.
Shona Robison, the Deputy First Minister, said action was needed to “reduce the causes and effects of ill health.” Adding “The decision to continue MUP and to increase the price shows Scotland continues to be world leading in improving the health of the people in Scotland.”
The change, which has to be approved by the Scottish Parliament, will not take place until September 30, Ms Robison added.
Scotland became the first country in the world to introduce MUP when the policy came into force in 2018.
Minimum unit pricing (MUP) is a flagship SNP policy and was fiercely opposed by the Scotch whisky industry when it was first announced in 2012.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the Scottish Beer and Pub Association, said the rise is “disappointing, especially during a cost-of-living crisis”.
She added: “The vast majority of people consume alcohol responsibly and this increase will put further pressure on strained household budgets.
“We strongly advise the Scottish Government to reconsider the increase at this time and instead look towards targeted interventions which have a proven record in tackling alcohol misuse.”
The SLTA (Scottish Licensed Trade Association), a long-time supporter of minimum unit pricing for alcohol, welcomed today’s announcement.
It has fully supported the principle of a minimum unit price for alcohol and commended the Scottish Government in 2011 for its efforts to tackle the problem of “cheap booze” and the consequences of irresponsible promotions in Scotland.
The trade association said that controls on pricing continue to be the foundation for other complementary policies to be effective in cracking down on irresponsible pricing and promotions.
Colin Wilkinson, SLTA managing director, commented: “Scotland has long had a challenging relationship with alcohol and the link between low prices and increased consumption is clear. The sale of cheap alcohol has been a major factor in many people developing alcohol-related problems so a proportionate increase in MUP make absolute sense.
“Pubs and bars provide a controlled and safe environment for people drinking alcohol whereas people drinking at home are not necessarily aware of how much they are drinking. The retention of and the proposed increase in the level of MUP will help avoid a return to the days of deep discounting and irresponsible promotions which were particularly seen in supermarkets where alcohol, on some occasions, was being sold cheaper than bottled water and below cost as a loss-leader.
“The 50p level was approved in the Scottish Parliament nearly 12 years ago so we believe that with rises in inflation since then, it was time to increase MUP from September 30.”
Mr Wilkinson said the introduction of MUP in May 2018 helped bring back price stability to the market and described the Scottish Government’s policy as “robust”, adding: “Minimum unit pricing is one policy where we wholeheartedly support the Scottish Government for its robust action.