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    Scottish indie retailers give mixed reaction to increase in minimum unit pricing on alcohol

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    Independent retailers in Scotland have reacted in different ways to the Scottish government’s announcement that it intends to increase the minimum unit price on alcohol from 50p to 65p from the end of September.

    Hussan Lal, president of the Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) in Scotland, says the organisation supports moves to prevent deaths from alcohol addiction but insists minimum unit pricing (MUP) is not the solution.

    Lal, who owns a convenience store in Paisley, said, “We are all for saving lives, but MUP is not the be all and end all. It has not worked, and simply increasing the price of alcohol will not deter heavy drinkers.

    “We need something different in terms of education and investment in better services to support those who are addicted to alcohol.”

    He is also concerned that the price increase will lead to an escalation in shoplifting, which has risen to unprecedented levels in recent years.

    However, Fed member Ferhan Ashiq, whose store is in Musselburgh, is supportive of the increase in MUP.

    He said, “As a retailer, I understand what the Scottish government wants to achieve and I back it. We need to play our part in this and I’m not opposed to it.”

    MSPs have voted to increase the minimum price at which alcohol can be sold by 30 per cent.

    For the past six years, the price per unit of alcohol has been 50p but MSPs have voted to put it up to 65p from the end of September, a move designed to reflect rises in inflation.

    The change will see the minimum price for a bottle of vodka rise from £13.13 to £17.06 and a standard can of lager will go up from at least £1 to £1.30.

    A sunset clause in the minimum unit pricing (MUP) legislation introduced in 2018 meant the current regulations would expire at the end of April. However, the vote backed by MSPs will ensure its continuation.

    Academics have been evaluating the impact of minimum unit pricing (MUP) for some time, and last year Public Health Scotland (PHS) collated 40 studies to examine the policy’s effect on health, business and public attitudes.

    Best estimates suggest that MUP has saved an average of just over 150 lives a year since its introduction and avoided more than 400 hospital admissions per year.

    In 2022, the last year for which figures are available, there were 1,276 alcohol-related deaths in Scotland, the highest level since 2008.

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