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Issue:- 20 January 2010

Proposed minimum alcohol price levels inadequate

GOVERNMENT proposals for minimum alcohol price levels that will ban shops and bars from selling drinks for less than the tax they pay on them are totally inadequate and will have little or no impact on improving public health, according to North West health campaigners Our Life.

Our Life believes that the government has missed an opportunity to stop supermarkets selling alcohol at pocket-money prices. Commenting on the proposals, Our Life chief executive, Dr Alison Giles, said:- “These measures, which stop well short of setting a minimum unit price, will have little or no impact in tackling binge drinking and the rising tide of public order and health harms.  The proposals widely reported today talk about banning below cost sales but is anyone actually bothered about the fact that sales are 'below cost'? No they're not. What people are concerned about is tackling the very cheapest alcohol on the shelves to reduce harmful drinking, changing people's attitudes towards alcohol, and rebalancing the unequal marketplace between pubs and the off trade. This move by government misses these points entirely.”.

Our Life claimed that at the levels proposed the ban on below cost sales will make no meaningful difference to the prices being charged by the supermarkets. “It’s very likely that this will still mean that you can buy two-litre bottles of cider for less than £1.50 and cans of lager cheaper than Coca Cola.  At these prices it is still too easy to get very drunk quickly and cheaply.  Bargain prices in the supermarkets can mean huge bills for the taxpayer as the NHS and the police have to sort out the mess. The financial cost of alcohol-related harm to the NHS in the North West alone is in excess of £400 million per year The most effective method of enforcing a ban on below-cost selling is to introduce a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol. It’s widely accepted that such a step would save lives and save money.”


AHEAD of the monthly unemployment figures, new analysis by UNISON, the UK’s largest union, has revealed a shocking collapse in the number of new jobs available compared to 3 years ago. The analysis exposes a fundamental flaw in the Tory-led coalition’s economic strategy.

For every 100 vacancies available in November 2007, there were just 68 in November 2010.

Some regions are hit harder still; in the East Midlands, there were just 49 vacancies in November 2010 for every 100 available in 2007.

In Scotland there were just 39 vacant jobs in November 2010, again for every 100 available in November 2007.

The news comes ahead of heavy job losses in the public and private sectors, which could push upwards of a million and a half more people into unemployment. This would pile even more pressure onto the jobs market, drive down demand in our economy, jeopardising our recovery.

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:- “There is serious trouble ahead. Osborne and Cameron’s economic strategy is a sham. The Tories are relying heavily on private sector jobs growth to fuel the recovery. But this analysis proves there has been a shocking collapse in the number of jobs available, spelling real danger for our economy.   There’s more misery on the horizon for the jobs market, with more heavy job losses hitting the public sector, and cuts set to poison the private sector too. Thousands of companies dependent on public contracts and on consumer spending are suffering.  It’s time for the Tory-led coalition to go back to the drawing board. Not only are their cuts dangerous, they are totally unfair. What about tackling banker’s bonuses, or making the financial institutions that caused this crisis pay with a Robin Hood Tax? An alternative economic agenda, built on fair taxation, could protect our public services and jobs at the same time as safeguarding our recovery.”

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