There could soon be a cap on the minimum price that can be charged for alcohol in England and Wales. Ministers from The Home Office are expected to publish a consultation on the proposal today which could mean that by law – retailers would not be able to sell one unit of alcohol for any lower than somewhere between 40 and 50p. MPs in Scotland have already proposed a minimum price of 50 pence.
Capping the price of booze is being seen as the government's way of reducing binge-drinking and the problems that come with that. According to the NHS there were over 1.1m admissions to hospital in 2010-11 as a result of violence on the streets fuelled by the actions of people who abuse alcohol. According to the Drink Aware website: a large 250ml glass of red wine is three units of alcohol, a half pint of 5% strength beer or cider is one and a half units.
The Wine and Spirit Trade Association said there was no "real world" evidence that minimum pricing would work. A spokesperson for the British Medical Association said the changes in pricing could help to stop young people binge drinking.
The Home Office said the consultation was targeted at "harmful drinkers, problem pubs and irresponsible shops" and a spokesman added: "Those who enjoy a quiet drink or two have nothing to fear from our proposals."