Alcohol related harm continues to be one of the key public health challenges in Scotland. Modelling suggests that Scotland faces a growing burden of disease over the next 20 years, and the Scottish Government is determined to try to prevent, and to minimise, the effects of ill health on people in Scotland.
Scottish Ministers recognise that MUP aims to reduce both the consumption of alcohol at population level and, in particular, among those who drink at hazardous and harmful levels. MUP is not intended as a standalone intervention to address the specific clinical needs of those with alcohol dependence; specialist treatment and care services are critical for this group.
It is the Scottish Government’s view that MUP continues to be an effective way to reduce alcohol related harm. Whilst acknowledging that the majority of those that responded to the consultation did not share this view, there was high levels of support from public sector health organisations, international organisations, non-health third sector organisations, academic institutions and local government bodies.
As mentioned public consultation respondents are self-selecting and consultation responses are not necessarily representative of the views of the wider population. In September 2023 the Scottish Government published public attitudes research 2023 the findings of which were weighted to ensure an appropriate demographic spread, found that overall people were more likely to be in favour of MUP (43%) than against it (38%). Almost a fifth of respondents (18%) were neutral and a small number did not know (1%).
In reaching its decision, Scottish Ministers considered a broad range of evidence, as well as limitations in evidence, in reaching their decision. They reached the view that MUP is effective to achieving their policy aim of reducing alcohol related harm in Scotland. The final Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment that will be published alongside legislation giving effect to Ministers’ decisions sets out the record of the assessment, but having considered the potential impacts of both continuing the policy and increasing the price to 65ppu, the Scottish Government has reached the position of continuing MUP and increasing the unit price to 65ppu.
The Scottish Government considered the views of respondents in relation to both continuation and price in reaching this decision. It is clear that a careful balance must be struck to balance potential impacts with potential effects, to deliver public health aims whilst minimising the effects on industry in achieving that.
The Scottish Government concluded that 65ppu provides a proportionate response to tackling alcohol misuse, as it strikes a reasonable balance between improving public health and intervention in the market.
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