'£700m windfall' from booze move
Large supermarket chains would benefit from a £700 million windfall if minimum pricing for alcohol was introduced across the UK, new research has indicated.
Tesco, the UK's biggest supermarket, stands to reap the most rewards, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).
The think-tank researched the likely impact of a 45p minimum unit price for alcohol - the controversial measure proposed by the Scottish Government but recently rejected by opposition parties.
IFS said such a policy would benefit retailers rather than the public purse, echoing an argument critics of minimum pricing have used against the measure.
The stores which sell the most alcohol - Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's - stand to gain the most from it.
Researchers also said that - in relative terms - the biggest beneficiaries would be the discount supermarket chains such as Lidl and Aldi which sell alcohol most cheaply.
Stores which do not sell much cheap alcohol - Waitrose and Marks & Spencer - stand to gain relatively little.
Researchers also suggested minimum pricing would have the greatest impact on households which consume the most alcohol.
The think-tank proposes higher taxation which mimics the impact of minimum pricing but generates revenue for the Government rather than retailers.
European directives mean that although it is currently possible to tax the number of units for beer and spirits, it is not possible to do so for wine and cider.