Response 148452274

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We invite comments on the proposed minimum price of 50 pence per unit which is set out in the draft Scottish Statutory Instrument at Annex A.

We invite comments on the proposed minimum price of 50 pence per unit which is set out in the draft Scottish Statutory Instrument at Annex A .
The Outer Hebrides Alcohol and Drug Partnership welcomes the decision of the UK Supreme Court to allow the implementation of minimum unit price (MUP) of alcohol and here provides its comments on the proposed MUP of 50 pence. Using price to reduce alcohol consumption and alcohol related harm is recognised by the World Health Organisation as one of the most effective measures that can be taken. When it is not possible to use taxation to do this, as is currently the case in Scotland, measures such as MUP may provide an effective (although preferably complementary) alternative to reduce alcohol consumption and harm as is being demonstrated in Canadian provinces. The level at which MUP should be set, and the proposal of 50p, was considered in the original legislation passed in 2012. More than five years on, we feel that this level should be reconsidered against the inflation rate from 2012 to ensure that the pricing reflects the current relative value. We would not wish such considerations to delay implementation and note the inclusion of a sunset clause for future review. Whilst welcoming the implementation of MUP as soon as practicable, we would ask that the potential differential impacts on remote, rural and island communities is considered as part of the evaluation. We do not have large areas of deprivation; our more socially deprived citizens live alongside their more affluent peers and so the impact on communities of addressing alcohol related harm will be more diffuse. We are aware that the research to date has not considered the potential impact in remote and rural areas where inequalities are often hidden and alcohol may form a significant part of the income of the community shop. Whilst in general the economic benefits of selling alcohol are outweighed by the economic costs shouldered by an area from alcohol related harm, there may be concerns that MUP will lead to closure of such services, impacting on all the population served and worsening inequalities. We suggest that this should be an area considered by MESAS in its monitoring. As an Alcohol and Drug Partnership commissioning services, we are asking our service providers to be mindful of the need to have ready access to services for those who come forward for help with reducing their alcohol use as a result of MUP implementation.

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NHS Western Isles Outer Hebrides Alcohol & Drug Partnership