Minimum unit pricing of alcohol : final business and regulatory impact assessment

Underlines the rationale for minimum unit pricing from health and economic perspectives, setting out anticipated costs and benefits for all parties affected by a minimum price of 50 pence per unit.

6. Consultation

Within Government

6.1. The following areas in Scottish Government were consulted in the preparation of this Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment:

  • Scottish Government Licensing Team in Justice, in relation to minimum unit pricing becoming a mandatory condition of a premises and occasional licence and the enforcement of the measure;
  • Scottish Government Health and Social Care Analysis, Population Health, for analytical support and advice; and
  • Scottish Government Legal Directorate for legal advice.

6.2. Within Local Government and Public Bodies

  • Licensing Standards Officers, who will enforce minimum pricing; and
  • Police Scotland, who will enforce minimum pricing.

Public consultation

6.3. A public consultation Changing Scotland’s relationship with alcohol: a discussion paper on our strategic approach [166] was carried out from 17 June 2008 to 9 September 2008. This included seeking views and comments on the principle of minimum pricing. Following the UK Supreme Court judgment in November 2017, the Scottish Government undertook a consultation on Scottish Ministers’ proposed minimum unit price of 50p from 1 December 2017 to 26 January 2018. A total of 130 responses were received and analysed [167] .

6.4. The number of responses received from individuals was 64 – this represents 49.2% of the total number received (130). The number of responses received from organisations was 66, representing 50.8% of the total number received (130). Of the total number of organisations that responded, 54.5% were from health organisations (both public and third sector). Responses from alcohol industry bodies, producers and retailers represented 31.8% of the total number responding from organisations, and 12.1% from non-health public sector bodies.

6.5. Out of the 130 responses, 70 (53.8%) commented on the proposed minimum unit price of 50 pence. This was broken down into 48 organisations and 22 individuals. The majority of the respondents who commented on the 50p minimum unit price were in support: 74.3% in total. Support for the proposed 50p minimum unit price was higher among organisations (79.2%) than individuals (63.6%).

6.6. The main issues raised by both individuals and organisations were more focused on the principle and implementation of the policy rather than on the proposed 50p per unit price itself. These were:

  • Evidence base;
  • Evaluation;
  • Implementation;
  • Impact on cost of living/ lower income households;
  • Increased revenue to the alcohol industry;
  • Impact on harmful drinkers;
  • Education/ awareness;
  • Treatment and recovery services; and
  • Cross border/ illicit sales/ online sales.

6.7. There were three responses which are more critical of the evidence base and raise particular concerns. One of these respondents disputed aspects of the econometric modelling work undertaken by the University of Sheffield, thought that the proposed 50p per unit would have negative economic impacts and proposed an alternative mechanism of minimum pricing, based on banded rates according to strength.

6.8. The consultation report states that, taking into account a range of factors, including the responses to this consultation, the Scottish Government concludes that a minimum unit price of 50p 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.

6.9. The Scottish Government held several meetings and discussions with businesses and business organisations involved in the alcohol industry, during and following the consultation period, to discuss issues related to the implementation of a proposed 50p per unit minimum price.

6.10. Two retailer meetings were held and attendees were:

  • Asda
  • C J Laing
  • Booker Wholesale
  • Lidl
  • Majestic Wine
  • Sainsbury’s
  • The Co-operative
  • J W Filshill
  • United Wholesale Grocers
  • Scottish Grocers Federation
  • Scottish Retail Consortium
  • Scottish Wholesale Association
  • NHS Health Scotland

6.11. Following the retailers meetings, it was decided that a separate meeting with wholesalers would be useful. The attendees for this meeting were:

  • Costco
  • Booker Wholesale
  • United Wholesale Grocers
  • Federation of Wholesale Distributors
  • Scottish Wholesale Association
  • Scottish Grocers Federation
  • Bestway
  • TLT Solicitors
  • NHS Health Scotland

6.12. Separate discussions were held with the following businesses and business organisations on a one to one basis:

  • Tesco
  • National Federation of Regional Newsagents
  • Sainsbury’s
  • C & C Group
  • Association of Convenience Stores
  • One-Stop Stores
  • Wine & Spirits Trade Association
  • Scottish Retail Consortium
  • Scottish Grocers Federation
  • Federation of Wholesale Distributors
  • Booker Wholesale
  • Aston Manor Cider

6.13. One producers meeting was held and attendees were:

  • C & C Group
  • Pernod Ricard UK
  • Scotch Whisky Association
  • Molson Coors
  • Loch Lomond Group
  • Whyte & Mackay
  • Maxxium
  • AB InBev
  • Diageo
  • Chivas Brothers Ltd
  • Aston Manor Cider
  • National Association of Cider Makers
  • Wine & Spirits Trade Association
  • British Beer & Pub Association
  • Scottish Beer & Pub Association
  • Heineken UK
  • Glenmorangie Co.

6.14. The engagement with businesses and business organisations raised issues – some of which were already highlighted in the consultation responses:

  • Short lead in time to implementation;
  • Impact on stock already in the system and priced at below the proposed minimum price;
  • Pre-price marked stock which is priced below the proposed minimum price;
  • Online sales;
  • Black market/ illicit alcohol sales;
  • Cross-border sales;
  • Discounts/ vouchers/ reward points;
  • Levies on industry;
  • Changes in minimum price;
  • Labelling;
  • Raising awareness with retailers;
  • Raising awareness with consumers/ customers;
  • Staff training; and
  • Enforcement.


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