Colin Neill CEO Pubs of Ulster comments on Scottish Minimum Price plans
14 May 2012
Following the announcement of a minimum price for alcohol by the Scottish government today, Colin Neill, chief executive of Pubs of Ulster said:
“Pubs of Ulster welcomes today’s announcement by the Scottish government that it will set a minimum price for alcohol, as it is the first time that real legislative action has been taken to address the issue of cut price alcohol.
“Pubs of Ulster also welcomes and supports the Scottish government’s decision to increase the minimum price per unit of alcohol from 45p to 50p, as extensive research has shown that this is the pricing level necessary to significantly reduce consumption amongst harmful drinkers whilst not penalising those who drink responsibly.
“Here in Northern Ireland, we are also faced with the same alcohol issues as Scotland. The availability of incredibly cheap alcohol, namely by the large supermarkets, is having a serious impact on issues such as health and antisocial behaviour. It has now become acceptable for large retailers to sell alcohol as a loss leader and offer customers alcohol cheaper than bottled water. For example, one leading supermarket recently sold 2 litre bottles of strong cider for only £1 – a staggering 50 pence per litre. As the representative of a responsible industry, Pubs of Ulster finds this completely unacceptable and believes this practice cannot continue.
“That is why Pubs of Ulster has been at the forefront of calls for the introduction of minimum pricing in Northern Ireland for the last number of years. We have been working closely with Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland and Health Minister Edwin Poots to bring about minimum pricing in Northern Ireland and we have been greatly encouraged by the Health Minister’s commitment to introduce the measure by 2013. We must stress however that the introduction of minimum pricing will not hit the moderate drinker, as they will only pay an additional £8.00 per year more on alcohol under any new measures.
“As well as setting a minimum price for alcohol, Pubs of Ulster is also calling upon government to introduce a social responsibility levy for supermarkets to bring about greater equality in the system. Pubs are the only licensed premises that already pay a substantial social levy due to the current commercial rating system which means that pub property rates are an average of 30% higher compared to any other commercial property, including other sectors of the licensed trade.
“For now, Pubs of Ulster will continue to work closely with Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland and Health Minister Edwin Poots to ensure that minimum pricing is introduced in Northern Ireland in the near future and by doing so, help tackle the serious issue of alcohol misuse and abuse.”