The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012 ("the 2012 Act") allows the Scottish Parliament to set a price below which alcohol cannot be sold in Scotland. The Alcohol (Minimum Price per Unit) (Scotland) Order 2018 set the minimum unit price of alcohol at 50p. The legislation came fully into force on 1 May 2018, after implementation was delayed pending the outcome of an unsuccessful legal challenge. Section 2 of the 2012 Act contains a sunset clause, stating that the minimum unit pricing of alcohol (MUP) provisions will expire after they have been in place for 6 years (30 April 2024), unless Scottish Ministers bring forward new legislation to continue their effect. Section 3 of the 2012 Act requires Scottish Ministers to lay a report on the operation and effect of MUP as soon as practicable after the first five years of MUP implementation.
The policy aims to reduce health harms caused by alcohol consumption by setting a floor price below which alcohol cannot be sold. In particular, it targets a reduction in consumption of alcohol that is considered cheap, relative to its strength. It aims to reduce both the consumption of alcohol at population level and, in particular, those who drink at hazardous and harmful levels. In doing so, it aims to reduce alcohol related health harms among hazardous and harmful drinkers, and contribute to reducing harm at a whole population level.
People who drink at hazardous and harmful levels in lower socio-economic groups suffer greater harms than those who drink at these levels in higher socio-economic groups due to the impact of multiple drivers of health inequality. MUP is also intended to address alcohol related health inequalities by reducing consumption and therefore harm among hazardous and harmful drinkers as a whole, having a positive effect on health inequalities given the greater harms people in lower socio-economic groups experience in relation to alcohol.
Purpose of this report
The purpose of this report is to report on the operation and effect of the minimum pricing provisions during the first five years of the provisions being in force. This report has been prepared to comply with section 3 of the 2012 Act, which states:
(1) The Scottish Ministers must, as soon as practicable after the end of the 5 year period, lay before the Scottish Parliament a report on the operation and effect of the minimum pricing provisions during that period.
(2) The report must, in particular, contain information about the effect that the operation of the minimum pricing provisions has had on—
(a) the licensing objectives specified in section 4 of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 ("the 2005 Act"),
(b) such categories of person as the Scottish Ministers consider appropriate, and
(c) the businesses of—
(i) holders of premises licenses granted under the 2005 Act, and
(ii) producers of alcohol.
(3) The categories mentioned in subsection (2)(b) may be determined by reference to characteristics including—
(c) social and economic deprivation,
(d) alcohol consumption, and
(e) such other characteristics as the Scottish Ministers consider appropriate.
(4) In preparing the report, the Scottish Ministers must consult—
(a) such persons as appear to them to be representative of the interests of—
(i) holders of premises licenses granted under the 2005 Act,
(ii) producers of alcohol,
(b) such persons as they consider appropriate having functions in relation to—
(ii) prevention of crime,
(iv) social work,
(v) children and young people, and
(c) such other persons (if any) as they consider appropriate.
(5) The Scottish Ministers must, as soon as practicable after the report has been laid before the Parliament, publish the report in such manner as they consider appropriate.
(6) In this section, "the 5 year period" and "the minimum pricing provisions" have the meanings given in section 2(5).
The remainder of this report is structured as follows:
1. Evaluation of Minimum Unit Pricing of Alcohol in Scotland - This chapter outlines the background to the PHS evaluation of MUP, summarises the key findings from the final PHS MUP evaluation report, and sets out the findings from the final evaluation report in relation to the licensing objectives, groups and appropriate categories of person identified by the Scottish Ministers, in accordance with sections 3(2) and (3) of the 2012 Act.
2. Summary of Consultation Themes – This chapter summarises the key themes from the MUP roundtable consultations held in 2022 and 2023, which were undertaken to fulfil the requirements of section 3(4) of the 2012 Act.
3. Conclusion and Next Steps – This chapter outlines Scottish Ministers' conclusions on the operation and effect of MUP and details the next steps for the MUP policy.
4. Annex A – a copy of the final PHS MUP evaluation report
5. Annex B – Stakeholders who took part in 2022 and 2023 call for evidence
6. Annex C – Questions used in 2022 and 2023 call for evidence
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