A RISE in the minimum price of alcohol has moved a step closer after Holyrood’s Health Committee backed the increase.

It is proposed to hike the minimum price to 65 per unit, up from the 50p that has been in place since 2018 when the policy was introduced.

MSPs must decide whether to keep Minimum Unit Pricing as there was a ‘sunset clause’ on the original law which expires on April 30.

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The health committee voted to keep MUP and raise the price.

 At the committee Christina McKelvie, alcohol and drug minister responded to criticism that it had not helped the most harmful drinkers, stating it is not a “silver bullet”.

Glasgow Times: A man choosing a bottle of wine

She said: “No single intervention in issues as complex as alcohol harm would be.

"From some findings in the Public Health Scotland (PHS) evaluation, it was clear that some people who were alcohol dependent had experienced additional challenges linked to the price of alcohol increasing.

"I know that specialist support and treatment is vital for these people."

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She said the Scottish Government has provided £112m for Alcohol and Drug Partnerships this year and she expects it to be spent on addiction services.

Sandesh Gulhane, Glasgow Conservative MSP, said: "The facts are nothing else is being done - this is the Government's silver bullet.

"This is the only thing that they seem to be doing when it comes to the area of alcohol.

"We simply need to see more treatment occurring, because that is proven to reduce people's dependence on alcohol, it's also proven to reduce deaths and improve lives and save lives."

The committee voted eight to two in favour with the two Conservative members opposed.

The whole parliament will now vote on the policy before the price rise would take effect on September 30 this year.

It has been argued that the price needs to rise to take account of inflation.

While alcohol-related deaths have increased, official evaluations on minimum pricing argue that it has led to fewer deaths and hospital admissions compared to if the policy had not been implemented.

However, reports have also shown that people whose drinking is causing them the most harm are not affected by the policy and many people are forced to spend less money on food and essential bills to pay for alcohol.

Glasgow Times:

A 65p MUP would see the minimum price of a 70cl bottle of whisky at 40% ABV rise from £14 to £18.20.

Vodka at 37.5% ABV would rise from £13.13 to £17.06 for a bottle.

Lager or beer at 4% would rise from £1 to £1.30  for a 500ml can or bottle.

Wine at12.5% abv would rise from  £4.69 to £6.09 a bottle.