Wales considers higher drinks prices after University of Sheffield report

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A new minimum price for alcohol could be introduced in Wales following research carried out by experts in Sheffield.

The Welsh government is considering the idea of introducing a 50p minimum price per unit of alcohol after a report by researchers from the University of Sheffield said the charge would cut crime and hospital admissions.

A study published on Monday said that the levy would be worth £882 million to the country’s economy over 20 years.

The report by the Sheffield University researchers, which was commissioned by the Welsh government, estimates that a minimum price would reduce alcohol consumption across Wales by four per cent - which could see each year booze related deaths fall by 53 and see 3,700 fewer criminal offences committed per year.

Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford welcomed the report’s findings and said it was ‘further proof’ the 50p fee would have significant benefits.

“It is no coincidence that as alcohol has become relatively cheaper, alcohol-related deaths and disease have increased,” he said.

“We will consider these findings and continue to develop our proposals with a view to introducing legislation.”

Earlier this year, in England legislation on alcohol pricing came into effect. It prevented alcohol being sold at less than cost price - for example, a can of average strength lager could not be sold for less than 40p.

In Scotland, legislation to introduce a 50p minimum price was passed by Holyrood in May 2012, but ongoing legal challenges have prevented the policy from being implemented and are now being reviewed by the European Court of Justice.