Minimum unit pricing comes into effect in Wales

Posted on: 2nd March 2020

Minimum unit pricing (MUP) comes into effect in Wales today (2nd March 2020). From today, the lowest price a unit of alcohol can be sold in the country is now 50p.

MUP raises the retail price of some alcoholic drinks, such as cheap spirits and cider. This makes them less attractive to buy, and there is strong evidence to suggest that this leads to a reduction in the rate of alcohol harm.

Most popular brands of beer and wine are already sold in shops and pubs at prices the 50p per unit level, so will be unaffected. For example, a standard-strength pint of beer or cider contains around 2.5 units of alcohol, so it can’t be sold for less than £1.25 (2.5 x 50p). A bottle of wine contains about 10 units of alcohol, so the minimum price for it will be £5 (10 x 50p).

However, there are some noticeable changes. For example, a bottle of whisky or vodka contains around 26 units, and so can now not be sold for less than £13 (26 x 50p).


Why MUP?

Scotland introduced MUP in May 2018 in an attempt to reduce alcohol harm in those at higher risk. The heaviest drinkers tend to favour the cheapest drinks, and those are the drinks that MUP will target.

In Wales each year, around 1,500 people die from alcohol-related causes. Around one in 10 people in hospital in Wales are dependent on alcohol. Alcohol misuse also places a heavy burden on the emergency services and on local councils who have to deal with the consequences.

Angie Contestabile, Public Affairs and Engagement Manager (Wales), says: “We welcome the news that the Welsh Government is following in the steps of Scotland.

“According to analysts, the policy there is working to reduce people’s alcohol consumption of the cheapest alcoholic drinks.

“Alcohol is a major cause of liver disease, which is rising across the UK. Although it is too early to see the real impact of the policy we simply cannot sit back and do nothing about this growing problem. It is a positive step forward that we hope will follow in England.’