Wales has moved closer to a 50p minimum unit price for alcohol after new government-commissioned research showed that the initiative would save the economy millions of pounds.

The study by Sheffield University, commissioned by the Welsh Assembly, found that a minimum unit price (MUP) of 50p would be worth £882m to the Welsh economy in terms of reduction in illness, crime and sickness absence over 20 years.

The Welsh government proposed the move in a public health white paper.

The report found that minimum unit pricing would be effective in reducing alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harms, including alcohol-related deaths, hospitalisations, crime and workplace absences.

It also found that MUP would only have a small impact on ‘moderate drinkers’, but have larger impacts on ‘increasing risk drinkers’.

Across the population, 38.4% of units purchased would be affected, resulting in a fall in mean weekly consumption of 4%.

Health minister Mark Drakeford said: “This latest Wales-specific research is further evidence that introducing a minimum price for alcohol o0f 50p a unit will have significant benefits on the health of the nation, reducing alcohol misuse and drink-related harm.

“We will consider these findings and continue to develop our proposals with a view to introducing legislation.”