Proposals for introducing minimum pricing on alcohol in England and Wales could be dropped, according to new reports.
There have been calls to introduce a base rate of 45 p per unit in a bid to tackle the problem of binge drinking in the countries, but Conservative ministers are believed to be split over the proposals. Louise Stewart, BBC political correspondent, explained that several cabinet members are against the introduction of the pricing policy, claiming that it would punish cash-strapped Brits and still not solve the problem of the over-consumption of alcohol across the two nations.
Scotland has been attempting to introduce a minimum pricing initiative in supermarkets in the country with the rate being set at 50 p per unit. However, while it has received its royal assent, it is facing a series of challenges before it can be fully enforced. Wine-producing nations in the European Union (EU) such as France, Italy and Spain have claimed that it breaches EU law on free trade.
In England and Wales, prime minister David Cameron had given his backing to the pricing initiative but the BBC reported that there is now a substantial amount of pressure on the government to drop the scheme. Labour has also said that the minimum pricing plan would not be a "magic bullet" and would only be effective if it was brought in alongside a balanced package of anti-abuse measures.
Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: "Consumers will welcome the report that the prime minister is reconsidering plans to hike up the cost of alcohol. Minimum unit pricing would penalise responsible drinkers and treat everyone who is looking for value in their shopping as a binge drinker."
If the 45 p per unit levy is introduced it would that a can of strong lager could be sold for less than £1.56 while a bottle of wine would have to be on sale for over £4.22. While the 45 p has been maligned in certain quarters, health campaigners are pushing the government to go further and push this up to 50 p.