Charity backs minimum price for alcohol
Government plans to set a minimum price for a unit of alcohol could help save the lives of rough sleepers, a charity has said.
David Cameron, the prime minster, announced today that the government is exploring the possibility of setting a minimum price of 40p per unit of alcohol.
The plans – which could see some strong cans of lager go from 75p to £1.20 – are going out to consultation, with the government saying it wants to reduce the burden on emergency services.
The proposals are not expected to hit pubs but will target the high-strength, low-cost drinks which often attract vulnerable people such as rough sleepers.
Thames Reach, the London homelessness charity, has been campaigning for a price increase to be put on to cans of strong lagers and ciders.
Mike Nicholas, spokesperson for Thames Reach, said: ‘This is fantastic news. These drinks are killing more homeless people than heroin or crack.
‘All the scientific evidence shows that peoples’ drinking behaviour follows price. This proposal would mean that the incredibly cheap and strong ciders and lagers would be hit the hardest. Under the proposal some of them could double in price.
‘We are not anti-alcohol, but we see the terrible damage these super strength drinks do to homeless people.
‘In terms of health, we have termed the phrase “the young olds” for a group of people who are in their 30s, 40s or 50s but have the physical and mental health of someone past their retirement age.
‘At the moment hostels do fantastic work but some of the people we work with need the type of care that has been set up for people past retirement age and that is a result of the impact of super strength drinks.
‘What we need now is the drinks industry to take more responsibility. Heineken has led the way after they came to one of our hostels, saw what we were doing and the following day took one of their high-strength drinks off the shelves.
‘We also need someone to tackle the issue of unregulated cash and carry businesses giving cheap promotions to corner shops.’