The second part of the University of Sheffield report, the 'Independent Review of the Effects of Alcohol Pricing and Promotion' was released last week as new measures were announced by the Home Secretary to tackle irresponsible drinks deals. The findings largely detail that alcohol pricing policies are effective in reducing alcohol related health, crime and social costs, yet will not be implemented by the government.
A summary of findings highlighted that based on minimum pricing policies applied to a unit of alcohol:
- Increasing levels of minimum pricing show very steep increases in effectiveness;
- Overall reductions in consumption for 20p, 30p, 40p, 50p, 60p, 70p are: 0.1%, 0.6%, 2.6%, 6.9%, 12.8% and 18.6%.
- Minimum prices targeted at particular beverages are less effective than all-product minimum prices
- Approximately 27% of off-trade alcohol consumption is purchased for less than 30p per unit, compared to 9% in the on-trade. 59% of off-trade consumption and 14% of on-trade consumption is purchased for less than 40p per unit
- A total ban on off-trade discounting is estimated to reduce consumption by 2.8%
- It is unclear what impact banning advertising would have
- A 40p minimum price gives an estimated reduction of around 41,000 hospital admissions per annum
For crime, unemployment and social impacts:
- A minimum price of 30p is estimated to reduce total crimes by around 3,800 per annum whereas a 40p minimum price is estimated to reduce crimes by 16,000 per annum
- Crime harms are estimated to reduce particularly for 11-18 year-olds as they are disproportionately involved in alcohol-related crime
- Unemployment is estimated to reduce as prices increase: e.g. 3,800 avoided unemployment cases per annum for a 30p minimum price versus 12,400 for a 40p minimum price
- The largest financially valued component of harm avoided due to policy changes is in the estimated unemployment reductions, valued at £303m per annum for a 40p minimum price
However despite the report having been commissioned to inform government policy makers, pricing controls will not be implemented. It is believed that the current economic climate may have further influenced the concern that such a move would further broaden the government's unpopularity with voters. However it is thought that Scotland may be moving towards a minimum pricing move, according to a BBC report.
Those who were calling for pricing controls in the UK will be frustrated that the forthcoming mandatory code for retailers will not stop 'loss-leading' by supermarkets, a key feature of the University of Sheffield report and highlighted as them most important issue for a code by consultation responses to government proposals to improve retailing practice.
Full versions of parts 1 and 2 of the 'Independent Review of the Effects of Alcohol Pricing and Promotion' can be found under the research heading here.