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The Coalition’s ‘Alcohol Strategy’ program is looking to implement minimum pricing of alcohol across the spectrum by 2015. Alcohol pricing strategists in Whitehall are looking to set the price per unit of alcohol between 40 – 50 pence. Fifty pence, is the trial monetary unit price, evidently going to be in Scotland, where there is a growing alcohol problem.
Alcohol has blighted generations of Britons; it is legal, yet alcohol, is the most harmful drug, long term for everyone. The destruction alcohol leaves behind its wake, is undeniably a National problem. Britain is a drinking culture; older generations have gasped in horror on a Friday night at me: “Why are you at home, a young lad like you should be in a pub getting merry?” So there it is, over time the drink culture has squirmed itself into the Brit psyche, a default mechanism embedded in our social lives, ‘work to drink’ ethics. In retrospect, Britain’s alcohol consumption is lower than it was in 2003 – 04, compared with today – but the results of heavy drinking for decades is starting to come into fruition, due to the number of conditions and diseases that has been registered since 2009. Alcohol is the prime suspect.
Scottish MP’s require measures to curve their alcohol problems, and the emergence of the minimal 50 pence per unit alcohol pricing, is an option. England, therefore wait in the wind to see if it takes effect. Monetary trials in this manner are disingenuous and rarely work. For a start, England ‘will’ have to adopt the same 50 pence per unit alcohol strategy, if it is at a lower rate i.e. (40 pence per unit); which as been suggested, the 10 pence difference is big enough for an embargo style stalemate with the Scottish drinks industry; plus liquor vendors could be subject to ‘smuggling operations’. Dragging beverage into the ‘black market’ – Trading transparencies will blur considerably and instead covert trading practices to the scale of our covert financial crisis will come apparent. Overall, if the minimal pricing of alcohol was to be implemented, exports globally will diminish, in the short-term replaced by regionalism, in the longer term, it’ll blight the industries fiscal capacities.
The 9 billion collected for the industries taxes by Whitehall would be hit substantially – hereby won’t help much with the NHS and police bill of 21 Billion that claim alcohol is the cause of such incidents. No, it’s generally idiots who are to blame! - not hard-working middle England folk who pop off to a supermarket in a bid to fill up their fridge with cheap drink. All by which are too fatigued after a drink to abscond into city centres to cause mayhem. The low-life minority that do pre-load, before venturing out to cause trouble, will do so regardless of the coalition’s minimal pricing strategy. Extra penalties should be imposed on the deplorable minority - not a generic across the board punishment. The Brits didn’t invent the term (Pre-loading) - it was the Scandinavians; they’re very apt at such raucous activities - partly due to the extortionate prices at their licensed bars. Through orders and dominance via ‘supply and demand’; Britain’s supermarkets have the capacity to conduct price wars with their suppliers and against themselves. Setting a minimal unit price inevitably is a starting gun, whereby the losers will lie in the liquidation gutter, and the winner (s) will ‘bolt to the bank’. Britain’s already hard hit drink manufacturing industries, on the premise that the supermarket are undoubtedly the supremacy marketing machine – by which they are paramount to a drinks manufacturer’s solvency. You can’t get more powerful than that.
Unlike reports suggest, it’s highly unlikely the ‘end of the drink bargain deals’ – if anything talk of setting an alcohol minimal unit fee may motivate, galvanise, many types of bargain deals, before the alleged ‘Alcohol Strategy’ takes hold in (2015) – and if it does, on the contrary supermarkets have had ample amount of time to source out a monetary mechanism that’ll be consumer price friendly. Good news for the consumer? Well not necessarily. A plethora of choices of alcohol beverages which we have at present won’t exist. And the deals and brands that do suddenly appear ambiguously - be wary of them. Potentially, setting a minimal price per unit could force manufacturers to cost-cut on quality measures, or worse still, brand subsidiary rogue groups could form and venture into available mainstream markets, imitating household brands – I refer to the actual case of Glen’s Vodka in 2011 when harmful chemicals were found in the Vodka. Occurrences such as this would become more apparent at the expense of consumer’s health and safety.
Proof that the coalition has been hypercritical is an understatement. They got rid of the 50 pence tax rate for the rich because it was non competitive on the global market, in regards to UK trade - yet on the contrary happy to impose a 40 – 50 pence fee on a unit of alcohol, in a unremitting period of recession?
The big three supermarkets have the power to drive the supplying costs down leaving the decrepit drinks supplier between a rock and a hard place. SME’s within the industry may also drown due to the big three’s quest to gain a competitive edge in the alcohol bargain deal price wars. Inevitably, the drinks industries have the potential to go the same way as the dairy industry. It’ll fizzle out and become unsustainable. Furthermore implementing a minimal price per unit could alternately break EU trading laws, as well as having a multiple number of court cases paid by the taxpayer.
To change a drinking culture is to swap it for another drinking culture; preferably a twenty four hour drinking culture – preferably, strong coffee for the inebriated, or not – 24/7 Starbucks, Coffee Republic, Costa Café, and Café Nero. If these establishments traded it’ll do wonders for our drinking culture.
Hiking up prices of alcohol products tends to pander to a binge culture. In Europe alcohol is more available, yet the penalties of being drunk in public is harsher. Noticeably coffee bars and restaurants are open longer and more of a social gathering with entertainment provided, than in the UK. There's not such a social emphasis on booze.