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Liberal Democrats

F28: Against Alcohol Minimum Unit Pricing

Submitted by: 10 members.
Mover: Cllr Sophie Thornton.
Summation: Cllr Simon McGrath.

Conference notes:

  1. The policy passed in September 2019 as part of the motion Stop Brexit to Save the NHS and Social Care, which said we supported: "Investing in a more coherent and evidence-based strategy to reduce harm from alcohol addiction by expanding public health services for addicts, including introducing minimum unit pricing in England".
  2. The commitment in the 2019 manifesto to: "Introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol, taking note of the impact of the policy in Scotland".
  3. The cost of living crisis.
  4. The recent report by Public Health Scotland Evaluating the impact of Minimum Unit Pricing in Scotland on people who are drinking at harmful levels, which found that:
    1. Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) led to a marked increase in the prices paid for alcohol by people with alcohol dependence.
    2. There is some evidence that MUP led to people drinking at harmful levels switching from consuming stronger ciders to spirits, and particularly vodka, in response to these price increases.
    3. There is no clear evidence that MUP led to an overall reduction in alcohol consumption among people drinking at harmful levels or those with alcohol dependence, although some individuals did report reducing their consumption.
    4. There is also no clear evidence that MUP led to a change in the severity of alcohol dependence symptoms among those presenting for treatment.
    5. MUP led to increased financial strain for a substantial minority of those with alcohol dependence as they obtained extra money via methods including reduced spending on food and utility bills, increased borrowing from family, friends or pawnbrokers, running down savings or other capital, and using foodbanks or other forms of charity

Conference believes:

  1. That the principles of evidence based decision making, including good evaluation of policies implemented, will lead to more effective policy choices.
  2. In particular that policies intended to influence people's decisions benefit from thorough evaluation because responses to such policies can be contrary or difficult to predict.

Conference therefore resolves to:

  1. Revoke support for Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol in party policy.
  2. Reaffirm our support for investing in a more coherent and evidence-based strategy to reduce harm from alcohol addiction by expanding public health services for addicts.
  3. Support greater investment in local government community outreach alcohol dependency units.

Applicability: England only.

Mover: 7 minutes; summation of motion and movers and summation of any amendments: 4 minutes; all other speakers: 3 minutes. For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see page 9 of the agenda.

The deadline for amendments to this motion , is 13.00 Monday 5 September, see page 12 of the agenda. Those selected for debate will be printed in Conference Extra and Monday's Conference Daily. The deadline for requests for separate votes is 09.00 on Sunday 18 September, see pages 8-9 of the agenda.