Booze price hike would lead to cheaper food, claims health watchdog
Hiking booze prices will force shops to slash the cost of food - and lead to greater state benefits, say a health watchdog.
Critics have claimed the Scottish government's plan will hit the poorest families.But the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence believe that if supermarkets cannot entice customers with cut-price booze, they will use food as "loss leaders" instead.
And they say pricier alcohol will push up the Retail Prices Index - which determines benefits and state pensions.
Report author Anne Ludbrook, an Aberdeen University professor, said: "People on low incomes could be better off."
Far be it from me to argue with a professor of 'health economics' but I can see one or two problems with this...
Firstly, as I've said before, I'm quite sceptical about whether supermarkets really sell much alcohol below below cost price (ie. as a loss leader). That's mainly because I've never seen these cheap deals with my own eyes. On the other hand, I've never heard a supermarket explicitly deny doing it, and I don't know exactly what the wholesale price for a can of Heineken is, so let's assume it happens.
If it does, then surely the point is to draw people in with cheap booze and then get them to buy the core product, ie. food.
But if, as Ms. Ludbrook suggests, they sell food below cost price, that's not a loss leader, that's just making a loss. You've got nothing to lead them to.
Secondly, if you want to increase state benefits and pensions, then just campaign for that. Why go round the houses trying to making alcohol more expensive in order to (slightly) increase inflation? Besides which, food is also included in the Retail Price Index and the price of that—supposedly—is going to be "slashed".
Any anyway, people on benefits drink too, so the money you contrive to give them by increasing their benefits is going to be cancelled out by the extra money you force them to pay for their booze.