MUP rise ‘not the solution’

Convenience leaders criticise MSPs’ decision to increase alcohol minimum unit price

Both Pete Cheema and Hussan Lal have blasted the decision to put up the MUP.
Both Pete Cheema and Hussan Lal have blasted the decision to put up the MUP.

SCOTTISH convenience channel leaders have slammed MSPs’ decision to increase the alcohol minimum unit price (MUP) from 50p to 65p.

They argue that it will lead to increased retail crime and be bad for the economy, and say educating consumers would be a better way forward.

The 15p price hike will come into force in September after MSPs voted by 88 to 28 in favour of the move on 17 April.

But Scottish Grocers’ Federation chief executive Pete Cheema said while the trade body supported MUP in principle, it believed the 50p price was still the right one.

He said there wasn’t enough supporting evidence to justify the increase, which would add to inflation and put pressure on both the household budgets of moderate drinkers and convenience sector businesses.

Cheema said: “Increasing prices substantially will inevitably have an impact on customer relations and potentially lead to more conflicts in store.

“That is why ministers must implement a full public awareness campaign to ensure everyone understands why costs are going up.

Hussan Lal, president of the Fed in Scotland, said the organisation supported moves to prevent deaths from alcohol addiction but insisted MUP was not the solution.

The Paisley c-store owner said: “MUP has not worked and simply increasing the price of alcohol will not deter heavy drinkers.

“We need something different in terms of education and investment in better services to support those who are addicted to alcohol.”

And he voiced concerns that the price rise would lead to an escalation in shoplifting.

Scottish Wholesale Association chief exec Colin Smith said: “While we support the Scottish Government’s ambitions to reduce health harms caused by excessive drinking, we are concerned that the increase to 65p has the potential to do more harm to the economy, our members and the customers they serve.

“It creates a large pricing differential between Scotland and England that will drive both legal and, more concerning, illegal cross-border purchasing.”