PUB landlords in York have spoken out about controversial Government plans to tackle drink-fuelled antisocial behaviour by imposing a minimum alcohol price.
The Home Office has launched a 10-week consultation on plans to introduce a minimum alcohol price of 45p per unit, raising the lowest price for a can of beer or cider to about £1.12, and for a bottle of wine to £4.40, in a bid to help reduce the levels of ill-health and crime related to alcohol.
Home Secretary Theresa May has outlined the package to “turn the tide” on a culture of irresponsible drinking estimated to cost the taxpayer £21 billion annually. The availability of cheap alcohol has been blamed for people binge-drinking before going out.
However, some York landlords have argued plans to increase the minimum price will make little difference to binge drinking or their trade.
Jason Hawkins, of the Three Tuns in Coppergate, said the plans would have little impact on the pub industry – despite a suggestion it could boost business – and felt it would not affect how much people drank.
“It will have no impact on the general pub industry as we charge significantly more than those prices due to the beer duty escalating. It’s supposed to curb binge drinking, but as it’s only 45p a unit it won’t. It’s a ridiculously low cost and makes it far too easily available for people to binge drink. It’s not what I class as responsible retailing.”
Paul Marshall, of the Waggon and Horses in Lawrence Street, said he did not think cost was the determining factor in binge drinking and questioned whether it would lead to further taxes on alcohol.
“There are other ways to tackle binge drinking. There are social issues around binge drinking, not pricing. This will just mean the poorer people will have to pay more for alcohol.”
However, Paul Watkinson, owner of the Black Horse in Wigginton and Cottage Inn in Haxby, said: “I’m hoping it does boost trade for pubs. It might stop young people from having alcohol before they come out – at the moment they are going and getting legless at home and not spending much in pubs. We pay a fortune for alcohol.”
Officials said it was currently possible to buy a can of lager for as little as 20p, and a two-litre bottle of cider for £1.69.