The UK government has announced a crackdown on binge drinking ahead of the World Cup by banning shops from selling alcohol at below cost price.
New licensing restrictions will come into force from April 6 preventing the sale of cheap alcohol in an effort to “reduce excessive alcohol consumption and its associated impact on alcohol related crime”.
The Home Office said low-price offers on alcohol had been shown to be linked to major sporting events.
Ministers hope the move will reduce the “pre-drinking” of low-price drinks and reduce violence and anti-social behaviour.
Potential savings to the NHS resulting from the changes have been placed at £5.3 million a year, law and order £3.6 million and £500,000 in reduced absenteeism from work.
However there has been criticism by alcohol charities, including Alcohol Concern, who said the measures were “laughable” and that enforcing it would be impossible.
Under the new restrictions, a floor price will be set at the duty payable on an alcoholic drink plus VAT.
It means a 440ml can of 5% strength beer cannot be sold for less than 50p, a 75cl bottle of vodka for under £10.16 and a bottle of 12.5% wine for under £2.41.
Duty free sales on ships, aircraft, trains, airports and ferry terminals are exempt, as is beer with a strength of 1.2% or less.
The Home Office impact assessment concluded that individual’s consumption is expected to fall by 0.04% overall – a “comparatively small” decrease, and said that while problem drinkers would be most affected, there would be a “limited impact on responsible consumers who drink moderate amounts of alcohol”.
Norman Baker, crime prevention minister said: “The coalition Government is determined to tackle alcohol-fuelled crime, which costs England and Wales around £11 billion a year.
“Banning the sale of alcohol below duty plus VAT will stop the worst examples of very cheap and harmful drink.
“It is part of a wide range of action we are taking, including challenging the drinks industry to play a greater role in tackling alcohol abuse.
“We have also given local areas the power to restrict the sales of alcohol in the early hours and ensure those who profit from a late night licence help pay towards the costs of policing.”
While the off-trade may face new restrictions, pubs might have rules relaxed to take advantage of the world sports event.
Earlier this week the PM “ordered a rethink” on a request by the British Beer and Pub Association to allow pubs to stay open late during two World Cup matches.
The Home Office had previously denied the request.