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Minimum unit price for alcohol to be introduced in Wales in March 2020 after Assembly approval

The Welsh Government will introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol of 50p from 2 March 2020, after regulations were this week approved by the National Assembly for Wales.

The Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Act 2018 will mean that it will be an offence for alcohol to be supplied below that price in Wales.

The Welsh Government said: “In Wales there are 60,000 admissions to hospital every year, because of alcohol. Alcohol costs the NHS £159m annually. In 2018, there were 535 alcohol-related deaths in Wales.

“The new law supports the Welsh Government’s comprehensive work to tackle harmful and hazardous drinking by tackling the availability and affordability of cheap, strong alcohol, which is part of wider efforts to improve and protect the health of the population of Wales.”

The Welsh Government highlighted research which it said estimated that introducing a 50p minimum unit price (MUP) would:

  • result in 66 fewer deaths and 1,281 fewer hospital admissions in Wales per year 
  • would save the Welsh NHS more than £90m over 20 years, in direct healthcare costs
  • would reduce workplace absence, which is estimated to fall by up to 9,800 days per year
  • over a 20-year period, the introduction of a MUP could contribute £783m to the Welsh economy in terms of the reduction in alcohol-related illness, crime and workplace absence.  

It also claimed research had recently shown that the introduction of a 50p minimum unit price for alcohol in Wales was unlikely to see drinkers switching to other substances or drugs. However, the Welsh Government said this was something which would be monitored closely once the legislation was implemented. 

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “There is a very real and clear link between levels of excessive drinking and the availability of cheap alcohol. We believe the introduction of a minimum unit price will help reduce alcohol related harm and support people to drink responsibly. Scotland has seen a decline in the amount of alcohol that is consumed since the introduction of MUP and I hope that we will see similar results in Wales.”