A Highland MSP has called on the Scottish Government to introduce a new levy from alcohol sales that would be redirected back into local health services.
Labour’s David Stewart believes that while the introduction of minimum unit pricing will help to combat alcohol abuse it doesn’t go far enough.
He pointed to the government’s own figures which show that funding for alcohol and drug prevention, treatment and recovery support services has reduced from £69.2m in 2014-14 to £53.8m in 2017-18.
Mr Stewart said: “Scotland needs a comprehensive, fully-funded strategy to tackle problem drinking – and any approach to tackling Scotland’s unhealthy drinking culture has to see an end to the SNP’s budget cuts to support services.
“Labour has made the case for a Social Responsibility Levy, the provisions for which were included in the Alcohol Scotland Act 2010 and have existed for almost eight years though the SNP have continually failed to use them.
“The legislation could help deliver revenue for projects and services which would prevent crime and disorder, protect children from harm and improve public health.”
“Alcohol clearly has a large adverse effect on the health of the population in Scotland and the minimum unit pricing for alcohol policy is an important step on the road to tackling this public health issue.
“However, we also need investment in services that help those suffering from alcohol misuse.
“The current minimum unit pricing policy does not guarantee that the additional revenue from sales will used to support health services.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: ”We have invested more than £746million to tackle problem drug and alcohol use since 2008, the vast majority of which has directly supported local prevention, treatment and recovery services. “Additionally, we have also announced an additional £20million per annum over the lifetime of this parliament to help improve drug and alcohol treatment services.
“The intention of minimum unit pricing is to reduce alcohol consumption, and it is not yet clear that licenced premises and retailers will see any increase in revenue.
“However, we will continue to keep the matter under review.”