Minimum Alcohol Pricing Will Be Good For Pubs?

by Dick Puddlecote

Minimum Alcohol Pricing Will Be Good For Pubs? Well, this has been the claim by CAMRA anyway. But, you know, I don’t reckon they have fully thought through the inevitable consequences of such a concept being widely accepted.

The Sheffield University study which the whole charade is based upon – madcap fantasy such as it is – already has a clause designed to impose the same on the on-trade in due course. In fact, it is claimed that extending minimum pricing to pubs too is the best possible outcome.

Differential minimum pricing for on-trade and off-trade leads to more substantial reductions in consumption (30p off-trade together with an 80p on-trade minimum price -2.1% versus -0.6% for 30p only; 40p together with 100p -5.4% compared to -2.6% for 40p only). This is firstly because much of the consumption by younger and hazardous drinking groups (including those at increased risk of criminal offending due to high intake on a particular day) occurs in the on-trade. It is also because increasing prices of cheaper alcohol in the on-trade dampens down the behaviour switching effects when off-trade prices are increased.

So, while Cameron is harassed by his cabinet insisting he just take his medication and shut his bloody cakehole, it’s not too surprising to see the first victims of minimum alcohol pricing being … pubs!

Two Newcastle bars are set to become the first in the UK to be licensed to sell alcohol at a minimum price in excess of a pound a unit.

Decantus (30-32 Grey St) and the Grey St Café Bar and Grill (77 Grey St/21-27 Market St) have been awarded a premises licence subject to a condition that alcohol is sold at set prices which equate to minimum price of £1.25 per unit of alcohol.

This is nearly three times the 45p per unit price currently subject to government consultation.

A modest starter for ten but, now it is installed as a condition, only a fool would believe it won’t rise whenever some councillor wants yo generate a self-righteous headline in the local rag. And, once Newcastle politicians trumpet how brilliant their genius idea is (well, they’re hardly going to admit it has failed, are they?), the scope for applying it to other pubs will be irresistible.

Wham! Before you know it, that’s yer Wetherspoons under the council’s price control mechanism.

No wonder Wetherspoons owner, Tim Martin, is so forthright about the danger minimum alcohol pricing will present to the on-trade.

“It’s utter bollocks, basically.”


Hey, CAMRA, you’re not helping much, you know.

2 responses to “Minimum Alcohol Pricing Will Be Good For Pubs?

  1. Beer-drinking alkis are the worst kind.

  2. I remember people (I can not remember if CAMRA should be included in this) saying the “competition policy” stuff a few years ago, making brewers sell their pubs, would be “good for pubs” – leading to more “free houses”.

    Actually, as allways with competition policy – “anti trust”, the results were terrible. Brewers (quite understanably) no longer gave the pubs they no longer owned less expensive beer, and pubs closed down in droves.

    When will poltiicians (and academics) understand that a real market is not (and should not) like what their neoclassical economics textbooks describe?

    If reality is not like the textbook – that does not mean that reality is wrong, and government should get involved to make the real world resemble the textbook.

    It is not a bad thing for film studios to own lots of cinemas (and the effort to “break the power of the studeos” in the United States had terrible results) and it is not a bad thing for brewers to own a lot of pubs.

    Just leave people alone and let them interact peacefully.

    That is what “a market” really is – not a lot of silly stuff in a neoclassical economics textbook.