Delivering the Government's response to the Alcohol Strategy consultation to MPs today, Jeremy Browne said plans to introduce a minimum price per alcohol unit, rumoured in March to be thrown out remained 'under consideration' but were not something to be pursued right now.
"We do not yet have enough concrete evidence that its introduction would be effective in reducing harms associated with problem drinking, without penalising people who drink responsibly," he said.
Instead, Browne said the Government would continue to work with pubs and clubs through schemes such as National Pubwatch and Community Alcohol Partnerships to deal with problem drinking and would 'enable tougher action' on those businesses that encouraged irresponsible drinking.
"Targeted action by pubs and clubs themselves has proved hugely effective in curbing irresponsible drinking," he said. "Best Bar None, National Pubwatch, Purple Flag and Community Alcohol Partnerships are good examples of what can be achieved by industry working in partnership with local areas."
Browne, who also dropped plans to ban multi-buy promotions, said he wanted to free-up responsible businesses and community groups from unnecessary red tape surrounding the licensing system and make it quicker and easier for those wanting to sell small amounts of alcohol, at community events, for example, to do so.
Other suggested ways of tackling the problems associated with alcohol were:
- Making it illegal for alcohol to be sold for less than the level of alcohol duty plus VAT from Spring 2014, meaning a can of ordinary strength lager will not be able to be sold for less than 40 pence.
- Abolishing the requirement for personal alcohol licences to be renewed every 10 years
- Increasing the annual limit for the number of Temporary Event Notices from 12 to 15
Responding to the UK Government’s response to its Alcohol Strategy consultation, WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “We welcome the Government’s recognition of the industry’s positive contribution to encouraging responsible drinking through the Public Health Responsibility Deal. It is only by working in partnership with industry that alcohol misuse in the UK can be tackled effectively. Pledges such as removing 1 billion units from the UK alcohol market are testament to this approach and to the industry's commitment.”