The Scottish Government has been commended for "brave leadership and "robust action" after announcing a rise in alcohol prices. 

Shona Robison, Deputy First Minister, confirmed that minimum unit pricing (MUP) will increase by 30% from 50p to 65p per unit of alcohol.

She said the price increase was required to counteract the effects of inflation. If Parliament agrees, it will take effect on 30 September 2024.

Ms Robison said research had shown that the policy had saved hundreds of lives and likely averted hundreds of alcohol-attributable hospital admissions.

She acknowledged that alcohol deaths rose last year  but said the proposals "strike a reasonable balance between public health benefits and any effects on the alcoholic drinks market and impact on consumers."

She said evidence suggested the policy has not had a significant impact on businesses.

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Reacting to today's announcement Glasgow Centre for Population Health said: “Alcohol is one of several, key harmful commodities, pervasively promoted, which requires concerted government action to reduce harm.

"Right now, Scotland’s population health is seeing an unprecedented decline, and we must use the policy levers at our disposal to slow, and in due course, reverse that decline – for the good of all of Scottish society.

"Like the wider population health situation, Minimum Unit Pricing needs brave leadership and mature informed dialogue across all parties.”


Today's announcement was also welcomed by NCD Alliance, a coalition of 24 health organisations that campaigns for action to curb harms caused by alcohol, tobacco and junk food.

David McColgan, Chairman of the alliance, said: “Evidence shows that the introduction of MUP has saved lives, averted hospital admissions and reduced the consumption of alcohol.  

“It’s now crucial that a mechanism is introduced automatically to uprate the Minimum Unit Price to ensure that the impact of this policy is not lost in the future.” 

Alison Douglas chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said it was encouraging to see cross-party support for the policy, given the recent rise in deaths.

She added: "Without support to increase the price, the positive effects we’ve seen will be reversed, with hundreds of people experiencing suffering and loss because of alcohol."

The Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) said it was "time for England to follow suit".

Dr Iain Kennedy, a member of BMA Scotland’s Consultant Committee, said the organisation was a longstanding supporter of the policy but added:  "The Government must focus on delivering a package of supportive measures to ensure we are not simply relying on minimum unit pricing to reduce the harm caused by problem alcohol use in Scotland, as crucial as this policy is."

Meanwhile, the Scottish Grocers’ Federation warned that increased MUP could deepen the cost-of-living crisis, impacting local businesses and hitting struggling households the hardest.  

Dr Pete Cheema, Chief Executive, said: "SGF believes in responsible retailing, and we support the Scottish Government’s aims to reduce alcohol harm. That is why we worked with ministers during the launch of MUP in 2018.

“However, it is clear that the analysis carried out during the covid pandemic and a swathe of changes to hospitality and drinking habits in recent years, has not been sufficient to justify increasing the MUP.  

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“Many convenience retailers are working flat-out just to keep the lights on, and doors open. It is often the case that convenience stores are at the very heart of their communities.

"Restrictions and higher prices inevitably come at a greater cost to doing business, putting more pressure on budgets and struggling household incomes."

He said the SGF was prepared to work with the Scottish Government to deliver a potential Public Health Levy on alcohol sales but said smaller stores must be protected.

Joao Sousa, Deputy Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute at the University of Strathclyde, said of the rise:  “This is the first time it has been increased since introduction, and most of the increase accounts for inflation since then – the 65p announced for 2024-25 is broadly equivalent to 53p in 2018-19 (when MUP was first introduced).

“Of course, this will mean some increases in prices at the lower end of the market, although the majority of sold alcohol is already above this level – for example, the average price per unit sold in the off-trade in Scotland was already 64p in 2021, and will have increased since then.”

The Herald: Colin Wilkinson of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association said it was a long-standing supporter of MUPColin Wilkinson of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association said it was a long-standing supporter of MUP (Image: SLTA)

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) welcomed the rise, saying the "link between low prices and increased consumption is clear."

Colin Wilkinson, SLTA managing director, said: "Pubs and bars provide a controlled and safe environment for people drinking alcohol whereas people drinking at home are not necessarily aware of how much they are drinking.

"Minimum unit pricing is one policy where we wholeheartedly support the Scottish Government for its robust action."