General comments about the operation of MUP
Change to wording of legislation to address rounding issue
Some respondents from the retail sector expressed a view that the there was an issue with the way retailers calculate the minimum unit price in order to comply with the minimum unit pricing provisions introduced by the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012.
The view expressed was that due to linear pricing rules which require a multi-pack to of alcohol to be sold at the same price as multiples of the single items it contains, there was an anomaly created by how retailers are required to round up fractions of a pence. The view related to the interaction between MUP and linear pricing rules, that created a difference in how multipacks were rounded up to the nearest pence compared to single item products.
A change to the way the minimum unit price is calculated is not something which could be achieved through secondary legislation using the powers in the 2012 Act. However, the Scottish Government has considered this in making this decision and will keep this under review and undertake further engagement with retailers as part of the ongoing consideration of the effectiveness of the policy.
As part of the public consultation, businesses highlighted that if there were to be a change in price, there should be sufficient communication to raise public awareness, and also appropriate timescales for the sector to implement the change without incurring unnecessary costs. This aligns with views provided by retail sector representatives in the Scottish Government’s engagement with the sector.
Having considered views on this issue, Scottish Ministers propose that an implementation window is introduced and the proposed price increase does not take effect until 30 September 2024. This will ensure that businesses have a sufficient lead in time to update systems and prepare for the new price.
The proposal aligns with advice from the Scottish Government’s Regulatory Review Group (RRG), an advisory board containing business representatives that support effective policy implementation in relation to considering and understanding potential business impacts. The Scottish Government will engage with relevant retail groups, Alcohol and Drug Partnerships and engage in other public awareness activities to ensure an understanding and awareness of the price increase and implementation date.
Need for ongoing review of MUP Policy
Some respondents expressed a view that there should be a further review period for MUP. The sunset clause that sees MUP expire unless Parliament agrees to extend it by 30 April 2024 was put in place to recognise that as a relatively novel policy intervention there was a need to review its efficacy after a period of operation and to review whether it was effective in delivering its aims.
Scottish Ministers were under a duty to publish a report on their assessment of the effectiveness of MUP after 5 years of operation but before the end of 6 years. This report was laid before Parliament on 20th September 2023 and concluded that MUP had broadly met its policy aims in supporting a reduction in alcohol specific deaths compared to the control period, reduced population consumption of alcohol by 3% compared to the control area of England and generally delivered public health benefits effectively in line with the Scottish Government’s intent.
MUP will be kept under review, in line with Scottish Government practice on all areas of policy delivery. If Parliament agrees to legislation implementing 65ppu this will also be kept under review.
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