Minimum pricing has no economic impact on alcohol industry - report

Analysis finds no reported jobs lost or shops closes as direct result of minimum pricing.

Minimum pricing: Policy has no impact on alcohol drinks industry, Public Health Scotland finds iStock

Minimum pricing has had no economic impact on the alcoholic drinks industry in Scotland, a report has found.

A minimum charge of 50p on each unit of alcohol has been in force since 2018, following a protracted legal battle.

Concerns were raised about its impact on the drinks industry, but a report commissioned by Public Health Scotland found no reported job losses or shops closures as a direct result of the policy.

The research, by Frontier Economics, said: “Evidence gathered does not suggest that MUP has significantly impacted the economic performance of the alcoholic drinks industry in Scotland.”

Researchers looked at five indicators of performance: the number of businesses, employment, total sales, value of output and gross value added (GVA), as well as conducting interviews with industry figures.

They found that while some retailers perceived there had been an impact, no staff cuts or shop closures were reported with a direct link to MUP.

But the report stressed that the policy may have had an effect on the industry in other ways – in patterns of consumer and retailer purchasing.

The study also found the initial impacts caused by MUP were felt in the first few years, with “almost everyone we spoke to for our case studies” suggesting the policy was not a “major day-to-day concern”.

Andrew Leicester, the associate director and lead researcher at Frontier Economics, said: “Our analysis does not find compelling evidence of observable impacts of MUP on industry performance in the years immediately following its introduction.

“Case study interviews from across different parts of the industry largely validate this view, recognising that MUP clearly did affect the behaviour of producers and retailers to adapt rapidly to new limits on pricing, but not in ways that appear to have significantly affected overall industry performance in the medium-run.”

Interim head of evaluation at Public Health Scotland, Neil Craig, said: “The report provides important evidence on how MUP has affected the alcoholic drinks industry in Scotland.

“We will bring this together with the other published evidence on the impact of MUP on a range of different outcomes, including hospitalisations and deaths.”

Public health minister Maree Todd said the research was evidence the policy was working.

She said: “Alcohol harms cause misery for not just the drinker but also for families, friends and the wider community, but we recognise that it is often a consequence of wider societal issues which is why we are doing all we can to help people get the support they need.

“We are currently reviewing minimum unit pricing and have published our consultation on restrictions on the marketing of alcohol to help drive down hazardous consumption.”

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