THE COST of alcohol is rising in Wales today as a minimum unit pricing is introduced.

What is minimum unit pricing?

It’s a way of setting a baseline price below which no-one can sell an alcoholic drink, explains Alcohol Change UK.

That price depends on how much alcohol is in each drink.

In Wales, the minimum price that is being set is 50p per unit of alcohol – a unit of alcohol is 10ml (two teaspoons) of pure alcohol.

So, the minimum price will vary for each alcohol drink.

For example, a standard pint of beer or cider contains around 2.5 units of alcohol – under the new rules, it can’t be sold for less than £1.25.

A bottle of wine has around 10 units, so the minimum price will be £5.

And a bottle of whisky or vodka contains around 26 unites, and so can’t be sold for less than £13.

When will it be introduced?

From 2 March. today, retailers and pubs will have to abide by the new law.

Why has it been dubbed the Strongbow tax?

It has been labelled the 'Strongbow tax' because it will have the biggest impact on strong but cheap ciders. 

For example, a 20-pack of Strongbow 440ml cans used to set you back £11 in Tesco or £13 in Asda, but as of today, a 20-pack will now set you back at least £22.

This is because Strongbow is 5% alcohol, and a 20-pack contains 44 units. 

Therefore, the MUP - 50p - means the overall cost is the number of units x 0.50. Which is £22. 

What other drinks will increase?

The MUP applies to every alcoholic beverage, so if you want to quickly calculate how much more you'll be pay simply multiply the number of units in the drink by 0.50.

An example of some drinks that will go up in price:

Tesco Apple Cider 4X440ml - Used to be £2.20, will now be £4.40

Carling Lager 18X440ml - Used to be £13 (based on current Tesco pricing outside of Wales), will now be £15.84

Crofters Apple Cider 5% 2L - Used to be £2.05, will now be £5.

Tesco Imperial Vodka 35Cl Bottle - Used to be £5.75, will now be £6.55.

Morrisons London Dry Gin 70cl - Used to be £11, will now be £13.15

Why is the Welsh Government doing this?

“The harm caused by alcohol is a major public health issue, leading to over 500 deaths a year. It affects individuals’ health, the NHS, the economy and families,” the Welsh Government have said.

“We are introducing a minimum price for alcohol to help reduce harm. The policy targets harmful drinking and focuses on low cost, high strength products.”

At any one time, around one in 10 people staying in Welsh hospitals are dependent on alcohol, say Alcohol Change UK.

South Wales Argus:

(The Welsh Government has said there are more than 500 alcohol-related deaths a year.)

How will this affect the drinks I buy?

Moderate drinkers should notice very little difference when shopping – a few pence here and there.

The biggest price increases will be for so-called 'white ciders' – strong, cheap ciders which are often sold in large plastic bottles.

It will also become harder for discounted spirits to be sold.

For example, 750ml bottles of vodka, whisky and gin are sometimes sold now for as little as £10. That’s set to rise to £13.

Most wine brands are already sold at more than 50p per unit and so prices are unlikely to change.

This is the same for popular beer brands.

But you might see a different when supermarkets sell beer in multipacks or slabs – as the discount applied often lowers the price below the 50p per unit.


Will it affect pubs?

Most drinks sold in pubs are already well above the 50p per unit minimum price, and so MUP shouldn't affect them.

For example, the minimum price means you won’t be able to buy a pint of beer for less than £1.25 or a large glass of wine for less than about £1.65.

There are very few pubs that have prices that low.

Have there been any objections?

There have been objections from Portugal that the Welsh law may make the country’s wines “less competitive” and this has delayed its implementation.

Portugal had raised an objection to the proposals under EU rules – any member state can raise a ‘detailed opinion’ on other member states’ policy plans, triggering a three-month halt on draft legislation.

The Welsh Government submitted a rebuttal but minister were unable to press ahead with the new laws as they had to wait for a standstill period, required under the EU rules, to pass.

Homelessness charity Huggard also feared the pricing could lead to people turning to cheap and illegal drugs.

But the Welsh Government said the risk was low.