Government must not delay in implementing minimum price on alcohol

Churches and charities have given a cautious welcome to the Government's plans to introduce a minimum price on alcohol sales.

Prime Minister David Cameron wants to introduce a minimum price of 40p per unit on all alcohol sold in England and Wales.

“We are delighted that the Government is resisting pressure from the drinks industry to take the action that is needed,” said Ruth Pickles, Vice President of the Methodist Conference, and a former alcohol misuse counsellor. “This move will save not only money, but lives.”

The Methodist Church was one of several major denominations in the UK to write to the Prime Minister last month asking for the introduction of minimum pricing on alcohol.

They expressed concern in their letter over the damage being done to the health of the nation and pointed to a survey commissioned by the Methodist Church and its partners last December, which found that 61% of British people believe excessive drinking to be a problem in their neighbourhood.

According to studies by Sheffield University, the introduction of a minimum price on alcohol could save the nation £546 million in healthcare costs, £140 million in the area of crime, and an estimated £80 million lost to workplace absence.

The Methodist Church warned that a long delay in the implementation of the minimum price could cost lives and exacerbate the damage caused by the sale of cheap alcohol.

“The evidence speaks for itself,” added Ms Pickles. “We see no reason for a delay in implementing the measures when so many academics and health professionals are backing the move. We cannot act quick enough to save lives and safeguard the vulnerable.

“Things weren’t always like this. Over recent decades, Britain has developed an unhealthy drinking culture, fuelled by a drinks industry which aggressively markets its products. We would also like to see broader action taken to address the root causes of this damaging culture.”

Hope UK, a Christian drug and alcohol prevention charity, also welcomed the measure.

Marolin Watson, Business Manager at Hope UK, said: "If nothing else, it will make it harder for young people, with limited means at their disposal, to purchase cheap alcohol with the specific aim of getting drunk.

"With liver disease on the increase, any measure that defers drinking or reduces the amount consumed can only be good for the health of the nation."

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