The Government’s watered-down plans to ban the sale of alcohol below cost price will not resolve the problem of binge-drinking, campaigners have said.
Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire said the move was an important first step towards banning below-cost sales of alcohol.
But critics said the ban did not go far enough, making it a “green light for supermarkets to keep selling booze at pocket-money prices”.
The ban was promised as part of efforts to tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder which costs the taxpayer up to £13 billion each year.
But the much-touted move will see cost price defined as just duty plus VAT and will have little if any impact on cut-price supermarket deals, campaigners said.
A can of lager will cost at least 38p and a litre of vodka at least £10.71 under the move.
It will be seen as a retreat from the coalition Government’s pledge to ban the sale of alcohol below cost price and will stop short of setting a minimum price for the alcohol itself.
Mr Brokenshire said: “By introducing this new measure we are sending a clear message that the Government will not stand by and let drink be sold so cheaply that it leads to a greater risk of health harms or drunken violence.”
He went on: “We know that pricing controls can help reduce alcohol-related violent crime and this is a crucial step in tackling the availability of cheap alcohol.
“In nearly half of all violent incidents the offender is believed to be under the influence of alcohol. That’s why we believe it is right to tackle the worst instances of deep discounting.”