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Health and charity bosses in Brighton and Hove call for minimum priced alcohol
Government plans to ditch plans for minimum alcohol pricing have been blasted by city chiefs.
Yesterday (March 13) reports suggested that minsters will not attempt to implement the Prime Minister’s plan for a 45p per unit minimum price on booze.
Health chiefs and charity bosses in Brighton and Hove criticised the move claiming, if implemented, it would save lives and reduce the bill to the taxpayer.
It comes as an investigation by Sussex Police revealed that cans of beer were being sold by newsagents at less than 14p a unit – three times less than the level put forward.
Andy Winter, chief executive of Brighton Housing Trust, which deals with a number of the city’s homeless, said: “There needs to be the political will to do something as radical, yet as obvious, as this.
“Some will say that by increasing alcohol prices, those least able to afford higher prices will be disproportionately disadvantaged.
“My view is that if higher prices saves lives it is something all reasonably minded people should support.”
Health chiefs said the cost of alcohol misuse is £107 million a year.
They added each week in the city there are typically two deaths associated with alcohol use and 98 alcohol-related inpatient admissions to hospital of Brighton and Hove residents.
Last year, bosses wrote to the Home Secretary urging for an “alcohol tax” on sales from off-licences, shops and supermarkets believing it will improve public health, lower crime and reduce the social costs on families.
Tom Scanlon, the city’s director of public health, said: “As a city that runs an array of initiatives recognised on the national stage as helping to manage the night-time economy and reduce the harm that excessive alcohol causes, we would urge the government to consider all serious ideas that might help combat the problem.
“We would also be disappointed if the government fails to adopt the advice of GPs and health experts who warn that problem drinking is a health crisis and adopting a minimum price would help curb the damage it causes.”
Later this month Brighton and Hove City Council will discuss an application from Sussex Police to strip the owners of Pop In Store in North Road, Brighton of its licence.
Evidence presented by Sussex Police shows that cans of super strength beer, with 9% alcohol content, were being sold for £1.50 each or four for £5 at the shop.
This is despite them being available at cash and carry outlets for £35.99 plus vat – the equivalent of £1.80 a can.
Last night, The Home Office said it had not made a formal decision on the 45p plans.
If introduced, a bottle of wine could not be sold for less than £4.22.
The department is also considering banning multi-buy promotions, such as two-for-the-price-of-one.
A spokesman for the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said: “Minimum unit pricing would penalise responsible drinkers and treat everyone who is looking for value in their shopping as a binge drinker.”
HOW WOULD IT AFFECT YOUR DRINK?
- In England and Wales the government consulted on a 45p minimum per unit.
- A bottle of own-brand gin with 37.5% alcohol content would go up from £6.95 to £11.85.
- A two-litre bottle of own-brand cider would more than triple in price from £1.20 to £3.75.
- The cost of a £12 bottle of whisky would rise to £12.60, while a bottle of cheap wine would go up from around £3.75 to £4.20.
- A four-pack of beer with more than 5% alcohol content would cost a minimum of about £3.95.
Andy Winter answers readers' questions about alcohol pricing inside tomorrow's Argus (March 15)
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