Some alcohol deals in supermarkets will be affected by the new plans

Some alcohol deals in supermarkets will be affected by the new plans

The UK government is proposing to set a minimum price of GBP0.40 (US$0.63) per unit as part of a wider strategy to tackle alcohol-related problems in the country.

In a move that follows similar plans by the Scottish government, the Coalition will consult this summer on introducing the measure. It is understood the aim is to introduce legislation in the autumn, with minimum price coming into force in 2014.

A ban on multi-buy discount deals in supermarkets is also part of the proposals, which have been discussed across all government departments. 

Explaning the move, Prime Minister David Cameron said: "Binge drinking isn't some fringe issue, it accounts for half of all alcohol consumed in this country. The crime and violence it causes drains resources in our hospitals, generates mayhem on our streets and spreads fear in our communities.

"We can't go on like this. We have to tackle the scourge of violence caused by binge drinking. And we have to do it now.”

However, Cameron and his health Secretary Andrew Lansley have reportedly clashed over minimum pricing. Lansley is in the process of establishing a 'Responsibility Deal' with the industry, designed as a partnership approach to avoid more legislation.

A minimum price would not affect prices in the UK on-trade, but would have an impact on some lower-end brands in the off-trade, particularly cider and vodka. 

Most publicans favour a minimum price, but producers are fiercely opposed to such intervention. 

Gavin Partington, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s interim chief executive, said: “Minimum unit pricing will punish the majority of responsible consumers with higher prices, hitting the poor hardest. 

"There is no evidence to prove it will tackle alcohol misuse – in fact the international evidence suggests that problem drinkers are least likely to be deterred by price rises.”