Minimum prices for alcohol 'will stop people going to pubs'
Westcountry pubs will be among the worst affected by minimum prices on alcohol, new research has suggested.
A YouGov poll indicated that contrary to the Government's claims of a boost to the industry, a 45p minimum price for alcohol will turn people away from Devon and Cornwall establishments.
Less than 1% of people surveyed in the South West said they will drink less at home and more in the pub, while almost half (46%) admitted they will drink less in the pub.
Around a third of people (36%) surveyed in the South West said they will continue to drink the same at home and in the pub, compared to the national average of 45%.
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Those who are constantly struggling to keep up with their outgoings were the most likely to say they will drink less in the pub (56%).
Tim Martin, JD Wetherspoon's chairman and founder, said: "Pubs in the South West will be among the 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."
Otter Brewery's Patrick McCaig said there was a disparity between how much minimum alcohol pricing would affect sales at supermarkets and pubs. He believes a new system of taxation for the pubs and retail sector could have more of an impact.
He said: "Instead of allowing supermarkets to take price increases as profit, the Government should use the minimum price as a tax.
"Minimum pricing is insanely worrying and open to abuse. Places where people are served by a qualified landlord who uses the skills he has learned will suffer.
"It's not that long ago that people couldn't buy alcohol in supermarkets after 6pm and on Sundays. Now they can buy it for ridiculously cheap prices 24/7. It's killing local pubs."
Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw said: "I'm against minimum pricing altogether because there is no evidence it will curb problem drinking, but it will penalise responsible drinkers and clobber our cider industry."
The report also showed some people were prepared to cut back on other items to cover the increased cost of what they drink at home. Around a fifth (18%) of respondents in the South West said they would be very or fairly likely to cut back on other areas of spending.
Mike Short, senior vice president of industry affairs at global brewer SABMiller, said: "If the Government really wants to cut antisocial 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."