The UK Coalition government has announced that it is looking at stopping the sale of cut-price alcohol. Supermarkets currently offer many deals and bogoff offers, buy one get one free. Of course many people use the cheap offers to stock up for Christmas, a birthday bash, a barbecue and so on.
Some in the UK however believe that the cut-price booze culture in the UK is the reason for an alarming increase in alcohol consumption. The increase has seen a huge number adults and young people needing treatment for drink related diseases. There has also been an increase in the incidence of alcoholism and drunken behaviour. Most UK city centres become virtual no-go areas after dark thee days. Drunks rule the roost.
The government has however been accused of simplifying the British drink problem. It has also been accused of using the proposed changes to alcohol pricing as a distraction from this week's budget. The media does appear to have forgotten the Granny Tax and more as it latches on to the "price of a pint".
Home Secretary Theresa May made the announcement today, which makes it the fourth announcement to be made on a Friday in the last 10 years. May claims that the allegations are basically nonsense and that the announcement was made today in order to get it public before the MPS take a well earned recess. Sorry. That last statement was sarcasm. Could not resist it.
The Coalition is proposing that there is a minimum price set for a unit of alcohol. This will be 40p per unit. It will come into effect in Wales and England. The Coalition has said that it will not make any money out of these changes. It maintains that it will go into the till of the retailer.
The announcement has caused a mixed reaction. There are so many ifs and ands with this decision. For what it is worth here are this blogger's thoughts on the matter.
Parts of the UK have always had a drink to excess culture, as far as alcohol goes. Experts have today said that the news of a price cap will prevent those consumers who drink to excess at home, on their own, from doing so. The price of alcohol in Pubs is presumably to stay as it is. This price is currently higher than in supermarkets anyway.
The theory appears to be that social drinkers in pubs are less likely to "get of their face" It generalises that those who do, have drunk plenty before they even get to the pub. It also generalises that alcoholism is more likely in solitary drinkers who consume alcohol at home.
Whilst any attempt to target the ever increasing problem of alcohol in the UK is good it is debatable if today's proposals will have any effect in real terms. Here are some other considerations:
That said it does not mean that all people who drink behave in such a way. In proposing the 40p per unit limit the UK government will hit all people who may consume alcohol. It will no doubt affect the alcohol trade negatively.
Will it help fight the "drunken UK culture" Probably not. Perhaps the government need to ask just why so many people feel a need to drink to oblivion these days and "get off their face".
Final thought: Politicians in the UK enjoy the privilege of subsidised alcohol prices in the Commons Bar. They are often "the worse for wear" during late night debates. Recently a bar brawl ensued in the Commons Bar and criminal charges have followed.
So will the Government lead by example and get rid of cut price booze in the Commons? Surely they must if they want to lead by example?
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog