Industry representatives have voiced concerns over minimum unit pricing (MUP) being introduced at a local level as licensing authorities seek to address alcohol-related issues.
With the government and opposition parties showing no indication of introducing a national policy, the onus could fall on local councils to introduce their own policies, according to Association of Convenience Stores public affairs director Shane Brennan.
Speaking at an ACS responsible retailing forum last week, he said: “The biggest downside about the government not doing minimum unit pricing is that councils are starting to try to do it. I think all parties will talk about giving more powers to local authorities after the next General Election. We’re facing a real licensing threat.”
Liam Hetherington, trade and legislation officer at The Co-operative Group, warned of the inconsistencies arising from locally-set policies. “I have concerns about minimum unit pricing as a local council policy. In Newcastle it could be 45p per unit, for example, and in Cumbria 50p.”
Greater Manchester authorities are pushing government for MUP on a national level, and looking into options for a regional policy.
Councillor Mike Connolly, Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s lead for the alcohol strategy, said: “Greater Manchester will continue to lobby government for national implementation of a minimum unit price.
“Greater Manchester will also continue to offer support for the North West regional dialogue on unit pricing, which is exploring options on a byelaw approach.”