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    Sunday, 15 March 2009

    50 Pence A Unit

    The recommendation from Governmental adviser Sir Liam Donaldson regarding the pricing of alcohol in the UK is all over the news today.

    He has suggested that as a minimum alcoholic drinks should cost 50p per unit of alcohol. This would result in wine costing upwards of £4 a bottle, which of course decent wine already does; and supermarket beer and cider prices would need to increase and the ridiculously low price promotions such as this would have to stop.

    This article cleverly informs us that a pint if beer would cost over £1. Now JDW would be putting the price of Ruddles Best up, but would anybody else be reducing their prices? I certainly don't think so. This is just another attack on drinkers and should be rejected at all costs. I'm pleased to see therefore that James Purnell who is effectively my boss and is a man I rarely agree with has suggested it won't be happening.


    Curmudgeon said...

    Although CAMRA nationally seems to be in favour of this (to their disgrace) it's interesting that none of the beer bloggers seem to be in favour.

    Paul Garrard said...

    I'm not in favour and I suspect it won't happen!

    Zak said...

    I'm in favour of it.

    It won't make a blind bit of difference to the price of a pint in the pub, or of decent bottled beer. Or even a bottle of WKD. It's aimed at the supermarkets and their anti-competitive below-cost practices.

    Anonymous said...

    As is stated, in theory it wouldn't affect pub prices - or most retail prices.

    But in practice there are a lot of issues. A lot. (Think smuggling, other crime, prohibition, price regulation bureacracy etc. etc.)

    It won't happen.

    Barm said...

    Anonymous, what makes you think that just because something is stupid, ineffective and unworkable the government won't do it?

    Tyson said...


    It's somewhat naive to just dismiss it as an anti supermarket measure. It's backdoor prohibition and is a tax on the working class.

    Zak said...

    Tyson, you're right that it will affect people with less money, but then any price increase affects them more (proportionally). You can point to any increase and emotively call it a tax on the poor.

    The budget this year (along with the VAT adjustments at the end of the year) is likely to make sure that pretty much all alcohol exceeds this minimum pricing structure anyway, the only exception being the multipacks of commodity lager and bitter sold too cheaply in supermarkets.

    If I were being cynical, I'd guess that the minimum pricing issue is a straw man that they can set fire to when they need a smokescreen for something else.

    Curmudgeon said...

    Zak, I think you're very mistaken there. Currently I would guess that at least 90% of off-trade sales are at under 50p a unit, including all the major spirit brands and many perfectly decent imported wines. The situation won't be that different even after two more duty hikes.

    You may look down your nose at what they're drinking, and be able to afford to pay more, but Tyson is quite right to say that this would significantly increase costs for many ordinary households.

    Zak said...

    By all means question my maths, Curmudgeon, but please don't assume that I'm looking down my nose at anyone.