The Salvation Army is very concerned and disappointed that the Government has u-turned on its commitment to introduce a Minimum Unit Price for Alcohol in England and Wales.
As a church and charity, we see the devastating human consequences of alcohol abuse caused by irresponsibly low costs of budget alcohol every day.
We are very concerned that the Government feels that they are tackling this issue by the introduction of a minimum price of VAT Plus Duty, which, from our calculations means that alcohol could be sold from a minimum of 10p a unit in current prices.(see attached document)
By reneging on its commitment, the government is turning its back on the most vulnerable people in society. This is a problem for the whole of society and needs to be dealt with. Very heavy drinking leads to health problems, homelessness, family breakdown and anti-social behaviour issues on our streets in all parts of the UK.
This decision is especially disappointing because the Scottish Government was able not only to pass legislation but also resist legal challenges brought by the wealthy alcohol lobby. The Salvation Army announced plans in Scotland earlier this month to increase our outreach work to support communities with alcohol dependency and its effects on health, families and futures.
All the evidence suggests minimum unit pricing is the most effective and targeted policy the Government can use right now to spearhead its action on alcohol. Minimum pricing is not a silver bullet – but it is the backbone of the Government’s Alcohol Strategy. The success of all other policies will be undermined if cheap drink continues to flood the supermarket shelves.
As the attachment below demonstrates different types of budget-brand alcohol are being routinely sold well below our suggested 50p per unit Minimum Unit Price. In fact some budget drinks are being sold for only 27p per unit.
The UK Government must stand firm and fulfil its promise to make a real impact on the levels of devastation and destruction that are driven by excessive drinking in Britain".
''When you are skint you end up on the strong cider, three litre bottles for two quid. Then you don’t buy Smirnoff Vodka, you buy supermarket vodka.” Nick.
''As money was running out, I would drink special Brew; then I went on to White Ace. The cheap cider crept back in when times were hard.” Alan.
“I started drinking when I was 12. I used to Nick my old man’s bottle. Dad was a big drinker. It used to be called pale ale at the time. It was disgusting. But it was there, so I used to sneak it at the weekend ‘cos he was drinking all the time. He was blotto, would come home drunk, so he wouldn’t remember how many drinks there were. So I would help myself. I could always get away with it. My drinking progressed from there.” John.
For interviews and more information, please contact The Salvation Army media office on 0207 367 4517