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alcohol health alliance uk

Balance Response to the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

Posted 01/12/10

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “We are pleased to see that many of the changes we and our partners called for in relation to licensing are included in these proposals. We welcome the fact that licensing authorities will have greater powers to refuse and review licenses and that local communities will have a greater say in where and how alcohol is sold in their towns and villages.

“What is particularly pleasing is that, under these proposals, Primary Care Trusts will become responsible authorities, meaning that public health will be taken into account when it comes to considering new license applications and reviewing existing ones.

“Of course, we need to see these proposals in more detail and understand how they will work in practice, but being able to control the availability of alcohol is one of the key ways we can reduce alcohol harm.

“That being said, many of the problems we face from alcohol misuse are caused by the widespread availability of alcohol sold at pocket money prices and we need to see what the Government proposes to do in terms of increasing prices.

“We expected the bill to contain proposals to ban the sale of below cost price alcohol but it doesn’t. Yesterday’s announcement that the Government intends to increase duty on strong beers and lagers over 7.5% doesn’t go far enough. They make up less than half a per cent of all alcohol products sold and duty on typical strong beers and lagers would have to more than double if it were to influence how much people drink.

“We need to restrict when and where alcohol is available and make sure it can’t be sold at pocket money prices. That means the introduction of a minimum price per unit of alcohol which would take cheap, strong drinks out of the hands of vulnerable groups like children and harmful drinkers while having a minimum impact on the moderate drinker.”