LONDON Feb 4 Retailers in England and Wales
will be banned from selling alcohol at below-cost prices from
April under proposals published by the government on Tuesday
which flesh out plans to limit excess drinking.
The proposals will mean supermarkets and all other licensed
retailers can no longer sell alcohol for less than the combined
cost of government-imposed duties and value added tax (VAT).
The step is expected to affect 1.3 percent of the total
"Banning the sale of alcohol below duty plus VAT will stop
the worst examples of very cheap and harmful drink," said Crime
Prevention Minister Norman Baker. He said alcohol-related crime
cost the country 11 billion pounds ($17.97 billion) per year.
The ban, which would mean a standard bottle of wine could
not be sold for less than 2.41 pounds, is expected to win final
parliamentary approval in the coming months.
The government first unveiled plans for such a ban in July
2013, but was criticised at the time for not going further and
imposing a minimum price per unit of alcohol.
In January senior doctors and anti-alcohol campaigners
accused ministers of caving in to lobbying from the drinks
industry over a minimum unit price. The industry says a minimum
unit price would not tackle the causes of alcohol abuse.
($1 = 0.6123 British pounds)
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Gareth Jones)