The Home Office has launched its consultation into the Alcohol Strategy today. In a written statement to MPs read out in Parliament, Home Secretary Theresa May MP announced the Government’s intention to set a minimum price per unit for the sale of alcohol.

The consultation paper marks the start of a 10 week period in which a range of stakeholders are invited to offer suggestions on Government measures aiming to ‘turn the tide against 
irresponsible drinking which costs the UK taxpayer £21 billion a year’.

The document states that a MUP of 45 pence will cut total alcohol consumption by 3.3%, leading to a reduction of 5,240 crimes and the prevention of 714 deaths a year.

The Alcohol Health Alliance [AHA], who welcome the Government’s proposals to introduce legislation tackling binge drinking in England and Wales, have written a letter calling on the Government to implement a MUP of 50 pence, citing evidence from the University of Sheffield suggesting that it will prevent more than 3,000 alcohol-related deaths and 40,000 crimes in England each year.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Royal College of Physicians’ special adviser on alcohol and chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK said:

‘The evidence shows us that heavy drinkers and young drinkers are more affected by higher alcohol prices than moderate drinkers. According to the University of Sheffield, a minimum unit price of 50p would reduce total alcohol consumption by 6.7%, saving around 20,000 hospital admissions in the first year.’

For this reason the AHA supports a 50 pence MUP for England and Wales, which would match the Scottish Government’s recent alcohol legislation.

Katherine Brown, Director of Policy at the Institute of Alcohol Studies said:

‘The Scottish Government has looked at all the available evidence and decided to set a MUP of 50p north of the border. It is common sense that the level set in England and Wales should be the same in order to avoid cross-border trading which could undermine the efficacy of this policy. We have already seen examples of major retailers circumventing Scottish price restrictions by advertising cheap alcohol from warehouses in the North of England. A uniform approach across the UK will give us the best chance of tackling the burden of harm caused by alcohol, and improving the safety, health and well-being of our communities.’

The consultation also will include banning multi-buy offers, a review of the mandatory code for licensees and small businesses, and a new duty to consider the impact on public health objective of licensing decisions.

The consultation will run until February 2013. The relevant documents are available to view and download on the

Home Office website