Alcohol proposals welcomed

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HEALTH chiefs in Wigan have backed the government ministers proposals to introduce a minimum price of 45p per unit of alcohol.

Bosses at Wigan’s health trusts say they would welcome the move, as they say services and budgets are being pushed to breaking point by alcohol-related illnesses and conditions.

The Home Office has launched a 10-week consultation on the plan, arguing it will help reduce the levels of ill health and crime related to alcohol.

Dr Kate Ardern, executive director or Public Health for the Borough of Wigan, said: “Cheap alcohol is costing public services dearly. We welcome the consultation on the government’s alcohol strategy that was launched in March 2012 and its commitment to introduce a minimum unit price. We continue to call for the introduction of a minimum unit price of 50p in line with research.

“The strategy also suggests a review of the current commitments in the mandatory code, which covers rules such as free tap water in bars and the ban on pouring alcohol directly into a person’s mouth instead of using a glass.

“We fully support a ban on multi-buy promotions and we believe that it is essential to add public health as one of the key objectives within licensing, enabling health services to have the opportunity to assess the impact on health of increasing availability of alcohol through licensing applications. We would endorse a review of the mandatory code, with a view to potentially tightening up the commitments of companies selling alcohol.”

However, not everybody agrees with the proposals. Wigan and North West MEP, Paul Nuttall says the move will hurt responsible drinkers and do nothing to combat binge drinking.

The UK Independence Party MEP said: “Imposing a minimum 45p per unit will be a blow for the majority of moderate drinkers in this country who just like a quiet drink at home. But it will not tackle the problem it is designed to solve.

“I am all in favour of ending loss-leader discounting in supermarkets and off-licences which has played a significant role in the downfall of our pub industry and it would be nice to think it might mean more people going back to them.

“But for those who just like to have a glass of wine or two with their meal or a couple of cans of lager while putting their feet up, this will hit hard.”