A STATEMENT on minimum unit pricing (MUP) is due to be made in Holyrood on Thursday afternoon.

Ministers are expected to confirm the MUP for alcohol will increase from 50p to 65p from early May, six years after the policy was first introduced.

It’s an issue which has sparked plenty of debate, with Tory MSP Sandesh Gulhane clashing with a charity boss earlier this week on the policy.

Here’s all you need to know.

What is MUP?

The Scottish Government explains that MUP “sets a floor price for a unit of alcohol”. Essentially, it establishes a baseline price per unit of alcohol in a drink.

For example, if a 660ml bottle of beer contains three units, then the lowest possible price that could be sold for is £1.50 – not including any taxes and duties.

When and why was it introduced?

The policy was first implemented on May 1 2018. On its website, the Scottish Government explains it is “not a tax” but rather a “targeted way of making sure alcohol is sold at a sensible price”.

Effectively, the idea is that the more expensive alcoholic drinks are, the less they will be consumed.

When is the statement?

When the law was first introduced, it included a six-year “sunset clause,” which means it will expire unless MSPs vote to add it permanently to the statute books by the end of April.

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According to the Scottish Parliament’s schedule, the statement is set to be made some time after 2pm on Thursday afternoon.

A consultation paper published by the Scottish Government explains that the 30% increase in the price per unit “strikes a reasonable balance between public health benefits against the effects of any intervention in the alcoholic drinks market and subsequent impact on consumers”.

Has it been effective?

The policy has proved divisive, although a report from Alcohol Focus Scotland in April 2023 suggested that there is “strong evidence that MUP delivered on its intended aim of reducing overall population consumption in Scotland, with a 3% decrease in alcohol sales”.

Elsewhere, the Lancet medical journal found MUP had helped to prevent hundreds of deaths and hospital admissions despite “limited evidence” that it reduced consumption among the heaviest drinkers.

It estimated deaths had been reduced by around 13.4%.  

However, others have been more critical. David Hume, GMB Scotland organiser in the drinks industry said of the planned increase: “There is simply no case for continuing to impose a minimum unit price on alcohol never mind increasing it.

“The jury is out on the policy’s impact on Scotland’s drinking but alcohol-related deaths are rising and there is no evidence to suggest it is helping protect problem drinkers.

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“The actual impact of minimum pricing is at best questionable and ministers should be asking those questions instead of doubling down by increasing it.”

What will the price rise mean?

A pack of four 440ml cans of cider would cost at least £5.15 under the plans, while a pack of four beer cans of the same size would be at least £5.72.

A bottle of vodka or gin meanwhile would have a minimum price of around £17.02.