Alcohol price measure in Scotland 'did not lead to many booze cruise runs in north Northumberland'

Sue Taylor, head of alcohol policy for Balance.Sue Taylor, head of alcohol policy for Balance.
Sue Taylor, head of alcohol policy for Balance.
Fears that raising the price of the cheapest, strongest alcohol in Scotland would lead to large numbers of over-the-border booze cruise trips – including in north Northumberland – have proved unfounded, new evidence suggests.

The study by Public Health Scotland (PHS) examined the extent to which people might be travelling outside the country to buy alcohol at a lower price since the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) in Scotland in 2018.

At the time, some critics claimed it would drive drinkers to bulk buy over the border in England.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

According to the report, interviews with retailers indicated that although households in close proximity to the border made most use of cross-border purchasing, these reflecting established shopping habits.

None of the retailers had knowledge of people from Scotland appearing to travel to England to buy large quantities of alcohol.

Analysis showed that substantial bulk purchasing would be needed for individuals to make significant savings whether purchasing in-person or online, once travel and delivery costs are taken into account.

When a panel of more than 1,000 Scottish adults was asked whether they have travelled to another part of the UK for the sole purpose of buying alcohol, only three per cent responded that they had done so.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Balance, the North East of England’s alcohol programme, believes there is strong evidence that MUP for alcohol works as a policy and it is needed for England – and especially the North East.

Sue Taylor, its head of alcohol policy, said: “When this was introduced in Scotland in 2018 there were claims that drinkers would bypass shops, but this does not appear to have happened.

“People were not travelling in any great numbers to buy cheaper alcohol elsewhere.

“Evidence already shows that MUP has already reduced consumption among the heaviest drinkers in Scotland and it is an effective policy at targeting those most at risk from alcohol harm.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The North of England sees the worst harms in the country from alcohol. Heavier drinkers and poorer households in the North were more likely to increase alcohol buying during the (Covid-19) pandemic, and 2020 was a record year for alcohol deaths.

“We urgently need action on alcohol to tackle price, promotion and availability as our nation and our region starts to recover from Covid.”