Labour: Ministers should bring in alcohol sales levy for public health

The party says the levy could raise money for alcohol and drug partnerships around Scotland.

A public health levy on alcohol sales should be set to bolster treatment services, Scottish Labour has said.

The party says the levy could raise money for alcohol and drug partnerships around Scotland and help tackle deaths caused by alcohol issues.

Labour MSP Carol Mochan said the Scottish Government’s minimum unit pricing policy was leading to retailers bringing in extra revenue.

The government had a previous policy of a public health supplement for large retailers who sell alcohol, but this ended in 2015.

Deputy First Minister Shona Robison’s draft budget said the government would “explore the reintroduction” of this tax.

Mochan said: “Alcohol abuse remains a major health hazard in Scotland, with lives being lost as a result.

“Despite this, the SNP’s actions are allowing retailers to cash in on additional money from alcohol sales while frontline services are being cut.

“This is nothing short of a shameful failure of those most in need and a clear example of this government’s skewed priorities.”

She added: “Minimum unit pricing is no silver bullet and without properly funded drug and alcohol partnerships then more lives will be avoidably lost.

“Scottish Labour is repeating its longstanding call for the implementation of a public health levy so that services and those who need them get the support that they need.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government is determined to do all we can to reduce alcohol-related harm and is working closely with Alcohol and Drug Partnerships and the third sector to do so.

“In 2022-23, £106m was made available to ADPs, increasing to £112m in 2023-24. This funding is used to ensure that local services meet the needs of people who experience alcohol and drug harm.

“The announcement in the Scottish Budget 2024-25 signalled the Scottish Government’s intent to explore the reintroduction of a Public Health Supplement. All relevant stakeholders will be consulted as part of that exploratory work.”

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