Minimum price for alcohol

March 30, 2012, 4:12 PM UTC

Public split over minimum price for alcohol, with 46% who support it and 46% opposed

The government has proposed introducing a minimum price for alcohol to try and reduce binge drinking. The public is split evenly over whether they support or oppose this new policy, our poll shows.

  • 46% support the idea of putting a minimum price on alcohol
  • 46% oppose the idea
  • The remaining 9% simply don’t know

Under new plans, shops would not be allowed to sell alcoholic drinks at below 40p for a unit of alcohol, meaning the minimum price for a can of regular strength beer would be around 80p and the minimum price for a bottle of wine would be around £3.75, which is thought by around one third of Britons to be too high.

  • 34% think the proposed minimum price of 40p per unit of alcohol is too high
  • 29% think this price per unit is about right
  • 21% say this price is too low

David Cameron plans to impose this minimum price for alcohol as part of a new sobriety scheme, as well as banning the sale of multi-buy discount deals in supermarkets.  Despite expecting it to be a deeply unpopular move, the PM has been persuaded by evidence of crime and health experts on the damaging social impact of alcoholism, especially among young people.

"Binge drinking isn't some fringe issue, it accounts for half of all alcohol consumed in this country. The crime and violence it causes drains resources in our hospitals, generates mayhem on our streets and spreads fear in our communities," Cameron said.

Firms benefit but moderate earners hit hardest

An analysis paper by researchers at the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that the policy was likely to have a big impact on society, transferring large sums from drinkers to retailers and manufacturers rather than towards the government as a form of "much needed tax revenue."

"In the long-term, it would be desirable to restructure alcohol taxes so that they were based on alcohol strength," the report says, "thus allowing the tax system to mimic the impact of a minimum price but ensuring the additional revenues went to the Government rather than firms."

The IFS have also warned  that the change in prices will have a big effect not only on big drinkers but also those on moderate earnings who do not over-indulge, with the potential to add more than £200 a year to the average family's grocery bill.

See the full survey details and results here