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Alcohol score: Scotland 50p – England/Wales 40p

Scottish ministers have proposed a minimum 50p per alcohol unit. A bottle of wine would set you back at least £4.69 and four cans of Tesco strong dry cider would rise from £1.80 to £4.67. Will this rein in alcohol abuse?

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish health secretary, announced plans to introduce the minimum price, upping it from the previously considered 45p:

‘Cheap alcohol comes at a price and now is the time to tackle the toll that Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol is taking on our society.’

The new minimum price will also affect multibuys, since a bottle of wine won’t be able to cost less than £4.69, supermarkets will have to stay away from ‘three bottles for £10-12’ offers (the cheapest offer would have to be £14.01 for 12.5% bottles). And when looking to spirits, Tesco’s own-brand vodka will rise 34% from £8.72 to £13.13.

It’s been worked out that alcoholics would have to spend an extra £120 on drink a year.

The new minimum price is expected to go through the Scottish parliament, with Scottish Labour likely to support the proposal as long as there’s a £130m ‘health levy’ on supermarkets, so that the government can get back the supermarket’s increased revenue from the new 50p price.

Your say on minimum alcohol prices

When we talked about the government’s proposed 40p unit price in March, our Facebook friends didn’t think the proposal would curb Britain’s drinking problem. Gavin told us:

‘It will mildly inconvenience most people, and cause a few people to divert food money into drink purchases.’

Norman agreed, adding:

‘No, it’s just another tax on the ordinary man. There is no evidence despite what the government says that the price of alcohol is a factor in binge drinking. Just as 20p on a Greggs pasty won’t stop obesity.’

Brigitte added to the Facebook chorus:

‘No it won’t! What is needed is a change in the way we educate our young people and a culture change in our attitudes.’

There was a similar consensus in the comments on Which? Convo, with Womble10 explaining:

‘Sensible drinkers will be the main losers, as always! Binge drinkers will find the money. It will make no difference to the appalling levels of drunkenness on our streets.’

However, Maurice was of a different opinion and argued that price needed to be tackled:

‘The medical professions, health and social services and the police all know that establishing a minimum cost per unit of alcohol will result in a reduced per capita consumption and an associated decrease in alcohol-related problems.

‘The facts remains that as long as alcohol is ridiculously cheap and widely available we will continue to face the many and varied social problems directly caused by over consumption. I would not mind paying extra for alcohol.’

So, whether it’s Scotland’s 50p or the 40p proposed by David Cameron for England and Wales, will a new minimum price curb binge drinking, or will it become a tax on responsible drinkers?


Hmm, let me see, has raising the price of any other “guilty pleasures” decreased consumption/use?

Cigarettes, Energy, Petrol, Flying…..

Just another cynical Tory money-making scheme if you ask me.

What they really should be changing is how we drink and what we drink. For example, every “beer” in this country that is sold in the supermarkets is riddled with additional chemicals that they are not forced to disclose on the label.

If the beer was less toxic, we wouldn’t have half the social issues that we have now.

My suggestion would be
1- Invoke German beer Purity law
2- Only serve beer at tables (no queueing up at the bar)
3- Settle your bill when you leave

This would not only cause an explosion of local breweries (in turn helping the local economy + giving each town a local identity), but should also help remove the “wife-beater” element that exists in all English beers served in pubs and supermarkets.


There are hundreds of breweries producing respectable beers and they are often available locally. I agree that beer (and other alcoholic drinks, bread and many other products) should show the ingredients. You can keep your fizzy, cold, foreign beers, thank-you.

The minimum price per unit is only going to affect supermarkets selling cheap and nasty booze. We would have less of a problem if supermarkets were not allowed to sell alcohol.

Robint says:
16 May 2012

Slightly off topic but on the same subject as “rip off”
I have never understood why the alco drinks industry has been exempt from stating their ingredients, like every other food/drink we consume?

Some of these drinks can contain nasty preservatives, colourings etc that we need to know about

After all soft drinks have their E numbers clearly stated for people with hyper active kids

Something stinks


Ah wavechange, you must be a real ale drinker.
CAMRA have the same pompous attitude “we drink real ale and therefore are best”

Many, many people like lager, like me, like a whole country of Germans, but I don’t like the rubbish that is available almost everywhere. I’ve lived in Germany and there they do it properly, you are guaranteed quality wherever you are in the country. But here in most pubs/bars/venues, the lager is pure chemicals.

If they provide real ale, why not provide real lager? It’s not a choice between ale and lager because the 2 are completely different. If the beer boys drank less toxic chemicals then they would fight less, I certainly feel less aggressive after drinking German beer, doesn’t give me a hangover either!

Robint says:
16 May 2012


Lager in UK is S***. Germans have an excellent brewing tradition – no contest BUT what about the Belgians (who went into hiding after being attacked by Basil Fawlty). It is said that Belgium has an individual town brewery for every day of the year and they have kept their identity and not got swallowed up by big combines and investment houses.

What can I say about their beers that has not already be eulogised so many times

One of my locals stocks more than 30 bottled of premium Belgian brews (complete with their special glasses). They range from Duvel 5.5% to Triple Got Verdammer at 13%. all at £3.60 for a 33cl bottle

Superb value as you sip them slowly to sample the flavours (not throw them down your neck like rubbish lagers). One of those easily lasts me an hour of pure pleasure.

For you buffs, whats the difference between Lager and Pils – an easy one

but Ale vs Beer ?



We are off-topic, but it’s your fault. 🙂

I am a real ale drinker, and drink in moderation. I am not a CAMRA member because I don’t like being associated with people who often drink more than is good for them, even though I very much support what they have achieved.

There are real ale lagers in the UK, best known being Harviestoun Schiehallion. I’m not keen on this (it tastes like lager!) or on many of the bland, golden ales intended to appeal to lager drinkers.

I’m curious to know what the chemical additives you regard as making English beers ‘toxic’. Maybe we should continue this discussion on a different Conversation.


Wavechange makes a canny point – if we could stick to the topic of how best to tackle Britain’s drinking problems, whether through a minimum price or other, that would be great. Thanks.

Robint says:
16 May 2012

yes we have wandered off to other interesting areas but dont know how to start a new topic?

As for beer additives – formaldehyde for one often added to lagers coming from hot countries

Wine can have many chemicals added but the real worry is the residual pesticides cos grapes are often picked and crushed without washing

we dont do this with fruit we eat

but the wine industry is full of scalliwags

Dunc Wooster says:
15 May 2012