Proposal to increase minimum alcohol unit price to 65p

Set at 50p per unit when introduced in 2018, the current term for MUP will come to an end on April 30 2024. Credit: PA

The minimum unit price (MUP) for alcohol in Scotland could increase to 65p per unit under proposals from ministers.

Set at 50p per unit when introduced in 2018, the current term for MUP will come to an end on April 30 2024.

The Scottish Government's Drugs and Alcohol Policy Minister Elena Whitham is proposing to increase the unit price to 65p in a consultation which launched on Wednesday.

The proposed increase is in line with the amount sought by groups such as Alcohol Focus Scotland.

It comes after figures released in August showed 1,276 people died from alcohol last year, the highest figure since 2008.

Ms Whitham said: "The recent rise in alcohol-specific deaths highlights the need for more to be done to tackle alcohol-related harm.

"Our world-leading MUP policy is one of the measures we know can make a difference.

"Recent research estimated it has saved hundreds of lives, likely averted hundreds of alcohol-attributable hospital admissions each year - and also contributed to reducing health inequalities.

"It is one of a range of measures we have in place across prevention and treatment services to reduce alcohol harm."

She continued: "We believe the proposals set out in this consultation strike a reasonable balance between public health benefits and any effects on the alcoholic drinks market and subsequent impact on consumers, but we want to hear from all sides and urge everyone to take the time to respond."

In its consultation document, the Government said it settled on 65p as this price brought the most health benefits while minimising interference in the market.

The Government said a price of 70p or more would result in "a more significant distortion to the market" with some premium products being included.

Under the 65p MUP, a 700ml bottle of Scotch whisky would cost a bare minimum of £18.20.

The same volume of vodka or gin would have a minimum price of £17.07.

A pack of four 440ml cans of cider would cost at least £5.15, while a pack of four beer cans of the same size would cost at least £5.72.

The consultation will continue for nine weeks, after which ministers will make a final decision on whether MUP should continue and what the unit price will be.

Responding to the plans, Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie said: "Scottish Liberal Democrats were the first party to call for this change, so I am glad that ministers have listened.

"If MUP doesn't move with inflation then the ambition of the policy is eroded.

"More than 20 people a week are dying in Scotland due to alcohol misuse.

"This is shocking and preventable, so we need to take steps to stop alcohol wrecking lives and communities."

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