Thursday, 17 May 2012

Booze: Minimum Pricing – What will it achieve?


Now, this may come as a shock to you but I like a few drinks every once in a while. Ok, more than a few and more nights than not.

When I first read that the government were considering minimum pricing per unit on alcohol I was outraged. Then they decided that it was definitely occurring. I was angry for a few reasons:

Firstly, I like alcohol a lot.

Secondly, the beer duty escalator pushes the price of beer up enough as it is.

And thirdly, this gives the government yet another way to sting us each budget.

Yes, I’m aware that it’s not actually a tax and apparently doesn’t benefit the government but minimum pricing is set at 40p (50p in Scotland soon) a unit now but what about next year when they decide that 40p isn’t enough and sticks another 3p on, then another 2p the next year and so on whilst at the same time raising beer duty, yet again.

What I don’t get and I’ve seen that others don’t get either (including a beer retailer) is who actually gets the money from minimum pricing. Where does it all start? At the brewer? The distributor? Or the retailer? It turns out that the government (as with a lot of things) hadn’t made this clear which causes a problem for independent retailers like good ol’ Zak because he doesn’t have the time to spend searching for the answers he needs in the dark corners of the internet. Retailers need to be actively told things like this. It turns out that the retailer gets this extra money. Good for them!

So this morning I read a blog post by Brewdog saying that they back minimum pricing because it will force people to drink better beer as there won’t be so much of a price difference between them.

Sorry, Mr Watt, but no it won’t. People will drink what they want, regardless of price. If people like drinking Carlsberg, they’ll drink Carlsberg. I highly doubt the average pisshead cares about the quality of beer. They’re not going to drink your beer just because it’s the same price. The average pisshead doesn’t spend ages deliberating what beer to get, they just want to drink. For me, as someone who drinks both awesome craft beer and macrolager, if a crate of 15 cans of Brewdog Punk IPA was the same price as a crate of Carling, I’d go for Punk every time but as it stands; if I want a heavy night I simply can’t afford to shell out that much money. I’m not rich, not by a long shot.

Then there’s the government, they’re saying that it will stop people drinking so much. Maybe a little bit but I don’t think it’ll really make that much of a difference because I don’t think most people will really notice the change in price. The only price rise I’ve noticed in the last few months is that two crates of 15 Carling in Sainsbury’s has gone from £16 to £19. What’s £3? Probably what I’d spend on a couple of double cheeseburgers on my way home from the supermarket. Most people literally will not notice. Probably because they’re too pissed.

I think the main reason people are buying from supermarkets instead of going to the pub is because you can’t smoke in pubs. That’s my big problem in the winter. I enjoy smoking but I don’t enjoy going outside to smoke. It’s cold out there, man. I’d rather be in the warmth of a house and freely drink and smoke to my heart’s content.

Basically, I disagree with minimum pricing. It won’t really make a noticeable difference to people’s drinking habits. It’s not really going to achieve much because people will always be able to somehow find the cash to drink if they want to drink.

What do you all think? Agree? Disagree?

Nate

4 comments:

  1. I'm utterly unconvinced by minimum pricing. Basic economics will tell you that something like alcohol is very price inelastic. Raising the price of it is not going to change most people's behaviours or purchasing habits. If anything, I worry this will push more people to drink at home which will a) further hurt pubs and b) could in fact result in people drinking more.

    From the perspective of tackling alcohol dependency it's also completely useless and the wrong way to go about it. What needs to be done is challenging WHY people drink too much, why they feel the need to go out and get blind drunk so often. It's taking a simplistic approach to a complex problem that won't do anything to alter our relationship with alcohol.

    It's also yet another policy that is going to overwhelmingly affect those on lower incomes. So, that's nice.

    Basically, I think minimum alcohol pricing is bullshit and will continue to think so until someone can offer me strong statistical evidence in its favour.

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    1. I don't think this will really hurt pubs as they will already be charging above the minimum per unit - there's no reason for pubs to charge any more as it's not extra cash they have to give to the government.

      And yes, it is going to affect those on lower incomes... which is the point because the government seem to think that the only people who ever get drunk are working class people.

      It is bullshit. It won't achieve anything. And David Cameron is a cum-guzzling gutterwhore.

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  2. Why do I have to be average? Why can't I just be a pisshead?

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  3. Awesome blog post man, wholeheartedly agree with you!

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