Minimum alcohol price 'will drive people away from pubs' says brewer

GLOBAL brewer SABMiller has released new poll results from YouGov which, it says, show that, contrary to the Government's claims of a boost to the industry, a 45p minimum price for alcohol will turn people away from pubs.

YouGov polled 1,261 people who had had an alcoholic drink in the preceding week to find out whether a minimum price would make them more or less likely to go to the pub. The results show that at a minimum price of 45p:

  • Less than one per cent (0.36%) say they will drink less at home and more in the pub
  • Pubs in the West Midlands will be most affected, with 54% of people surveyed saying they will drink less in the pub compared to the national average of 39%
  • Just over a third of people surveyed in the West Midlands (36%) say they will continue to drink the same as they did before at home and in the pub, compared to the national average of 45%
  • People who are constantly struggling to keep up with their outgoings are the most likely to drink less in the pub (56%)

The report also shows that some people will cut back on other things in order to cover the increased cost of what they drink at home:

  • 16% of respondents said they would be very or fairly likely to cut back on other areas of spending - of those struggling or falling behind with their outgoings that rose to 24%
  • Compared to the rest of the country people in the West Midlands who thought they would end up spending more on alcohol were the most likely to cut back on entertainment, for example paid TV subscriptions, DVDs or books (21%)
  • 13% of those struggling or falling behind with payments said they would cut back on food, compared to eight per cent of the general population. Eighteen per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds said that was also something that they would do. In the West Midlands thatfigure was five per cent

Tim Martin, Wetherspoon's chairman, said: "Pubs in the West Midlands will be worst affected by this policy as it appears that local people are less willing to go to the pub if the cost of drinking at home goes up. This puts paid to the Government's claim that minimum pricing will help the UK pub industry."

SABMiller's senior vice-president of industry affairs, Mike Short, said: "This shows that people don't behave in the way computer models predict. If the Government really wants to cut anti-social binge drinking it needs to tackle that culture with better education for parents and in schools, targeted local schemes and proper enforcement of the existing licensing laws."

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