Minimum unit pricing (MUP), introduced in Scotland in 2018 to prevent the sale of cheap alcohol, has cost consumers almost £200m more than projected.
MUP was introduced by Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon on 1 May 2018 at 50p per unit to prevent the sale of cheap alcohol in a bid to combat alcohol-related harm. The policy was initially justified on the basis of computer modelling from the Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model (SAPM), a team at the University of Sheffield, which projected various health-related and social improvements. Prior to implementation, MUP was projected to cost consumers £76 million.
The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has revealed that the actual cost to consumers could be closer to £270 million, the equivalent of £59.39 per adult or £71.12 per drinker. The report also finds that most indicators related to alcohol-related health, crime and employment have remained similar or worsened since MUP was implemented.
Christopher Snowdon, co-author of the report and IEA head of lifestyle economics, said: “Our estimate suggests that minimum pricing has cost Scottish drinkers more than a quarter of a billion pounds… Although alcohol consumption has fallen slightly in Scotland, we find no evidence that this has led to an improvement in health outcomes. Consumers have simply switched from the most affordable alcohol to mid-range brands, to the benefit of alcohol producers and retailers.”
The report also finds that there is little evidence of health and social benefits to offset this cost.