The Home Office message to the Government and Partners Group made clear that minimum unit pricing remains a policy under consideration, but will not be taken forward at present. The Government does not believe that the evidence supports a ban on multi-buy promotions in shops as its effectiveness in reducing hazardous and harmful drinking remains inconclusive. The Government is convinced that targeted local partnership solutions should be strongly supported.
The Home Office has said the Government’s next steps will be to:
Take targeted national action, ending sales of the cheapest alcohol by introducing a ban on selling alcohol below the price of Duty plus VAT, and strengthening the ban on irresponsible promotions in pubs and clubs. The Government will introduce a ban on the sale of alcohol below Duty plus VAT no later than Spring 2014. Changes to the Licensing Act and banning the sale of alcohol below duty plus VAT will require legislation.
The Government continues to challenge industry to increase its efforts, building on what has already been achieved through the Public Health Responsibility Deal. This includes improving education to promote safer drinking; reducing the availability of high strength products that cause the most harm for problem drinkers; and responsible marketing and product placement.
Other Government Endorsed initiatives include supporting local action on alcohol-related harm, identifying a number of high harm local alcohol action areas and take action with them to strengthen local partnerships; improving enforcement; and sharing good practice based on what works locally.
Make the licensing system more targeted, proportionate and flexible by freeing businesses and communities from unnecessary red tape. In particular, by introducing a simpler authorisation process for community groups and those who only sell small amounts of alcohol as part of their wider business.
For industry, this means promoting, expanding and supporting successful partnership initiatives (e.g. Community Alcohol Partnerships, Best Bar None, Pubwatch, Purple Flag) in order to reduce alcohol-related crime and disorder and binge drinking, and to improve the local economy. It includes agreement by industry to provide funding to support initiatives in local action areas. The Government has also asked for assistance with mapping the local delivery landscape and identifying potential gaps in the response to specific issues, such as improving education to promote safer drinking and prevent underage drinking. The Home Secretary has already asked for industry commitment to continued financial support for Drinkaware. In addition, the Government wants to see further action in relation to the new Education Pledge to promote safer drinking and to help prevent underage drinking.