Starting in October, consumers in Scotland will not be able to purchase a bottle of red wine for less than £6.09 or a bottle of whisky for under £18.20 due to a 30% increase in the minimum price for alcohol.
Shona Robison, the deputy first minister, confirmed a Guardian story earlier this week that the minimum unit price (MUP) will increase from 50p a unit to 65p to keep pace with inflation and ensure prices are kept relatively high.
On 30 September, the updated prices will take effect. This will result in an increase of £18.20 for a basic bottle of whisky, at least £1.30 for a can of lager, and £17.06 for a standard bottle of vodka.
“According to Robison, the problem of alcohol-related harm continues to be a significant concern in Scotland, leading to deteriorating health outcomes. She noted that this is especially prevalent among men living in impoverished regions.”
The number of deaths related to alcohol has increased in recent years, largely due to higher consumption during the Covid pandemic.
Robison informed members of the Scottish Parliament that despite the current annual expenditure of £112m on alcohol and drug treatment facilities, government officials are contemplating implementing a new public health tax on retailers in order to recoup the additional profits made from Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP).
The Fraser of Allander Institute, located at Strathclyde University, approximates that retailers have made around £30 million annually from MUP by keeping the excess amount paid for drinks above the wholesale price of the product.
Scottish Labor and organizations focused on public health contend that the justification for implementing a levy has become even more compelling. A minimum price of 65p would result in increased profits without effort. Labor stated on Thursday that any funds generated from the levy should be directed towards programs for alcohol treatment and rehabilitation.
According to Robison, consultations with businesses and health professionals are being held to consider the potential implementation of a public health levy. A decision is expected to be made prior to the Scottish budget for this year. Between 2012 and 2015, Scotland had a levy on major retailers aimed at promoting public health, which resulted in £95 million in revenue.
Robison rejected the Conservative claims that the raise unfairly punished regular customers amidst a period of rising living expenses. According to expert evaluations, implementing a minimum pricing policy has resulted in a 13.4% decrease in alcohol-related deaths each year. This is significantly lower than the projected death rate without MUP, as stated by Robison.
The Scottish Retail Consortium expressed approval for the higher unit price, but was upset about the possibility of an unproven and unjustifiable new tax.
According to Ewan MacDonald-Russell, the deputy chief executive, proposed tax increases are simply an attempt to collect more money in disguise, unfairly burdening an industry that is already facing significant challenges.