Wales minimum unit pricing plans move forward

The Welsh government has moved forward with plans to approve a 50p minimum unit price (MUP) for alcohol in Wales following a public consultation.

The Public Health Minimum Price for Alcohol Bill was introduced before the National Assembly for Wales on 23 October 2017 by public health minister Rebecca Evans. The bill was approved in June last year and is expected to come into effect this summer.

It addresses health concerns around the effects of excess alcohol consumption, which is estimated to lead to 55,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions a year, costing the Welsh NHS £150 million (US$194m) annually. In 2017, there were 540 alcohol-related deaths in Wales.

The level of MUP was subject to a consultation by Welsh ministers. After assessing responses to the consultation, ministers have remained settled on a 50p MUP as a “proportionate response to tackling the health risks of excessive alcohol consumption”.

The Welsh government will specify regulations for the 50p MUP to the National Assembly for Wales, for its consideration later this year.

Health minister Vaughan Gething said: “Following a public consultation, I’m pleased to confirm we will now ask the National Assembly for Wales to approve a 50p minimum unit price.

“We believe a 50p minimum unit price strikes a reasonable balance between the anticipated public health and social benefits and intervention in the market.

“We will continue to use all available levers to reduce the harms caused by the excessive consumption of alcohol, as we develop and take forward a new delivery plan for substance misuse.”

The consultation also discussed the “potential unintended consequences” of a 50p MUP.

Gething added: “The consultation process raised a number of issues, such as the potential impacts on vulnerable groups, household budgets, the risk of switching to other substances and the potential increase in the number of people seeking support from services. We will continue to consider these potential impacts.

“We have commissioned specific research to look at the risk of switching, which will report ahead of implementation.

“In December 2018, we announced an extra £2.4m in funding for Area Planning Boards for local frontline substance misuse services so that we can ensure services are widely available.

“We have worked closely with Area Planning Boards throughout the development of this legislation and we will continue to do so ahead of implementation.”


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Author: Nicola Carruthers {authorlink}