Wednesday 29 November 2017

Live from Cardiff

As the BBC rather unexpectedly reported, I attended the Welsh Assembly this morning to give evidence on minimum pricing.

A minimum price for alcohol in Wales could hit drinkers on low incomes and lead to some young people turning to drugs, a think-tank will tell AMs.

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) will also claim it is "impossible" to predict how consumers will react.

The Welsh Assembly's health and social care committee is taking evidence on the proposed minimum 50p unit price.

... "It will simply wipe out the bottom end of the market and force consumers who have a preference for budget brands to buy mid-range brands," said Chris Snowdon, the IEA's head of lifestyle economics.

"It is likely to lead to a shift from cider to spirits for dependent drinkers. A shift to the cheapest illegal drugs is also highly plausible among some groups, including young people."

He also claimed it could increase the cost of living for those who do not wish to drink less and is likely to lead to those on low incomes cutting other parts of the household budget, such as food and heating.

If you are minded to, you can read my written submission here and you can view my appearance here. I'm on after the lads from the Sheffield Modelling Club.

The committee generally seemed to be sceptical about the idea that increasing the price of most off-trade booze was only going to cost moderate drinkers two quid a year (as the Sheffield lot claim). And rightly so, it would be a very unusual drinker who was affected so little. One of their number was less sure about alcohol and drugs being substitutes (a 'public health' trougher had denied this in an earlier session). I promised to forward some evidence and have now done so, including this, this, this and this.

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