Scotland raises minimum alcohol prices by almost one third
Scotland has raised its minimum alcohol prices by 30%.
Starting October, a bottle of whisky will cost at least £18.20, and red wine won't be sold for less than £6.09. This price change comes as the minimum unit price (MUP) increases from 50p to 65p per unit due to inflation.
Shona Robison, the Deputy First Minister, confirmed the hike after a recent Guardian report. The revised prices, in effect on September 30, will also set the price of a can of lager at a minimum of £1.30 and a bottle of vodka at £17.06.
Highlighting alcohol abuse as a significant health problem, especially among men in impoverished areas, Robison referenced the rise in alcohol-related deaths, exacerbated by the Covid pandemic.
Despite the government's annual £112 million investment in addiction treatments, ministers are discussing a new health tax on shops to reclaim profits gained from the MUP. This measure could recoup around £30 million annually earned by retailers post-MUP, according to the Fraser of Allander Institute.
Scottish Labour and health charities support the new levy, arguing that the 65p MUP will increase retailers' windfall profits, suggesting the tax revenue should fund alcohol recovery initiatives.
Consultations are underway about the tax, with a decision expected before Scotland's budget announcement later in the year. A similar health levy was previously implemented from 2012 to 2015, raising £95 million.
Robison refuted Conservative claims that the price rise unfairly burdens consumers amidst financial hardships, referencing evidence that MUP has substantially reduced alcohol-related deaths.
The Scottish Retail Consortium accepts the higher unit price but criticizes plans for the additional tax, which they view as an unfounded burden on an already strained industry, according to Deputy Chief Executive Ewan MacDonald-Russell.