A ban on the sale of below-cost alcohol will affect just 1.3% of the total alcohol market when it comes into force on April 6, the government’s impact assessment has revealed.

Ministers first announced a ban on the selling of below-cost alcohol - which it defines as the value of duty plus VAT - last summer when they scrapped plans to introduce minimum unit pricing.

New guidance published by the Home Office shows that a 440ml can of 4% ABV lager must be sold at no less than 41p, while a 440ml can of 9% ABV ‘superstrength’ lager cannot be sold for less than £1.16.

A 750ml bottle of 40% ABV vodka will not sell for less than £10.16, and a 700ml bottle of 13% ABV wine for less than £2.24.

Ministers believe that smaller retailers may benefit from more custom if loss leading activity is “permanently reduced” in the major supermarkets.

Using the University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) model, the government’s impact assesment estimates that approximately 900 crimes could be prevented per year at a benefit of £3.6m.

It also estimates health savings of £5.3m per year, and savings of £0.5m per year from ’reduced absenteeism to society’, bringing an overall saving of £9.5m per year.

Crime prevention minister Norman Baker said: “Banning the sale of alcohol below duty plus VAT will stop the worst examples of very cheap and harmful drink.

“It is part of a wide range of action we are taking, including challenging the drinks industry to play a greater role in tackling alcohol abuse.”

ACS chief executive James Lowman welcomed a ban on below cost sales, “which will help prevent loss leading and make the sale of illicit alcohol easier to identify”.

The Home Office guidance on the banning of below-cost alcohol is published here.