Impact of the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/17/02910
Date received: 22 November 2017
Date responded: 8 December 2017

Information requested

In relation to the policy of Minimum Unit Pricing and the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012 (the Act), you have asked:

When considering the part the price of alcohol plays in excessive alcohol consumptions effect on public health what consideration was given to the following factors:

1. Poverty? 2. The high cost of housing and low availability of affordable homes? 3. Low incomes and poverty pay, and their consequent effect of social exclusion? 4. Oppressive government measures like the Bedroom Tax and Universal credit? 5. The failure to warn against alcohol abuse and lack of instilling of proper aspirations and work ethics in students through Education? 6. The potential for booze cruises to England and the incentive for criminal elements to operate a black market? 7. The encouragement for self brewing with the potential to make even stronger beers and wines and offer them for sale on a black market? 8. The potential for drink problems to mirror existing drug problems, including the consequent effect on crime, as those with an alcohol "dependency" may resort to extraordinary measures to feed their "habit", like robberies, muggings, and general theft? 9. The lack of, and poor funding of sports facilities essential to incentivise alcohol consumption propriety? 10. How this measure will disproportionately impact on low and fixed income groups, those on benefits and those whose only income is derived from the State pension? 11. How the measure fails to address the issue of those with alcohol problems in higher income groups? 12. What consultation was undertaken taken by the government to ascertain whether the measure discriminates against specific groups, as detailed at 10) above and that it fully complies with the terms and spirit of the Human Rights Act 1998, and the European Convention on Human Rights? 13. What lobby groups from the Licensed Trade were spoken/listened to or were consulted, and was the degree, nature and specific content of the evidence they offered/provided.


Some of the information you have requested is available from various websites and the detail is set out below. Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the websites listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy of the key documents.

The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012 was accompanied by a Final Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) and can be found on the following link: BRIA.

A BRIA is usually required for new legislation and is signed off by the relevant Scottish Minister. A BRIA contains various levels of analyses such as a description of who will be affected by the proposed legislation, a description of the costs and benefits to those parties, and a quantification of the impacts of the costs and benefits.

The BRIA contains information on the following questions you have asked:

Question Page and paragraph reference
1 Page 26, para 2.29; Page 56, para 5.24
6 Page 74, para 5.81-5.86; Page 77, para 5.92-5.93
7 Page 78, para 5.94
8 Page 56, para 5.25
10 As Q1
11 Page 70, paras 5.64-5.66
13 Page 42, paras 3.8-3.13; 3.15
13 Page 52, paras 5.12-5.17
13 Page 16, paras 5.36-5.49
13 Page 71, paras 5.67-5.75
13 Page 78, paras 5.95-5.130
13 Page 92, paras 6.1-6.24
13 Page 106, paras 1-57

In addition, as the Bill was going through the legislative process before becoming an Act, it was scrutinised by the Health and Sport Committee which looked at written and oral evidence from those that might be affected by the policy. Two debates were also held on the Bill in the Scottish Parliament. Information relating to the legislative process can be found on the following link:(available here).

On 15 November 2017, the UK Supreme Court confirmed that the legislation which allows minimum unit pricing to be introduced is lawful. The Scottish Government plans to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol on 1 May 2018. Prior to this, a consultation is being held to provide people, businesses, public bodies and interested parties with the opportunity to comment on the proposed legislation and its associated impacts. The Scottish Government's preferred price is 50 pence per unit of alcohol. Taking into account a range of factors, the Scottish Government considers a 50 pence per unit minimum price provides a proportionate response to tackling alcohol misuse as it strikes a reasonable balance between public health and social benefits and intervention in the market.

The responses to the consultation will be used to inform the refreshed BRIA which will accompany the draft Scottish Statutory Instrument when it is laid in the Scottish Parliament. The BRIA plays an important role in explaining the impact of our legislation, so it is vital that it is up to date. The consultation can be found on the following link: (available here).

Minimum unit pricing has to be seen in the context of our wider strategy to tackle alcohol misuse. Changing Scotland's Relationship with Alcohol: A Framework for Action recognises that no single action will bring about the change which is required to reduce consumption, to support families and communities, encourage more positive attitudes and positive choices and to improve treatment and support services. The Framework was launched in 2009 and is now well established, with many of its original actions having been completed. The refresh of the Framework is due to be published early in 2018 and will focus on embedding and developing what is in place. The Framework can be found on the following link: Alcohol Framework the next steps. This broader approach also focuses on other areas such as education, diversionary activity, support for families and communities, and preventive public health measures such as alcohol brief interventions.

As regards education, which you refer to in question 5, Choices for Life is a programme of work, run by Police Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government, designed to support effective substance misuse education. It provides advice aimed at helping schools and local authorities achieve the substance misuse outcomes in Curriculum for Excellence. The Scottish Government has reviewed the types of substance misuse education and prevention interventions for which there is evidence of effectiveness and the types of activities which have been shown to be ineffective. We are now aligning the interventions we directly support with the evidence from that review.

The Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS) provides data on trends in smoking, drinking, drug use and lifestyle issues among Scotland's secondary school children every two years. A series of reports from the national survey carried out in 2015 were published on 25th October 2016 and can be found on the following link: SALSUS. The latest information from SALSUS shows us that the proportion of pupils who have ever had an alcoholic drink has decreased since 2013 – the figure is at the lowest level for both age groups than at any time since the survey began in 1990 (28% of 13 year olds and 66% of 15 year olds).   As regards question 12, an Equality Impact Assessment was completed for the Act and can be found on the following link: Alcohol minimum pricing.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested. This applies to questions 2, 3, 4 and 9. The reason for this is that these issues were not considered within the context of the minimum unit pricing policy or the Act.

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