Chris Mercer

Confusion reigns on UK alcohol policy

By: Chris Mercer - 13 August 2010 16:52

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The UK Coalition Government's attitude towards alcohol appears confused.

Prime Minister David Cameron this week said that he would look "very sympathetically" on a plan by authorities in Manchester to introduce a minimum price on alcohol in the city.

Yet, for weeks now, we have been told that the Government is not interested in minimum pricing. It does, however, want to curb supply and sales of drinks by banning below-cost sales at retail. There is a consultation on what 'below-cost' means and there is also one underway on the licensing laws.
 
A Home Office spokesperson told me today that minimum pricing is still not very interesting to the Government. If that is the case, then why is David Cameron listening "sympathetically" to Manchester councils?
 
Ministers have declared their support for more decisions to be made at a local level. But, this could easily cause a jumble in terms of policy.

The Government began its term by setting out a reasonably clear stall on alcohol, but has since set about muddying the waters - which could suggest either a lack of cohesive planning or divisions in the Coalition.

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