The Government has moved the “goal-posts” over tackling cut price alcohol after suggesting that minimum pricing could be linked to inflation, claims the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), writes Michelle Perrett. In response to the Health Select Committee report on the Alcohol Strategy, the Department of Health said yesterday: "The Government is clear that a minimum unit price should be effective over a sustained period and recognises that there are different ways by which this could be achieved, for example by linking the minimum unit price to inflation." The Government is to consult in the Autumn on the price level of a minimum price. The consultation will consider the impact of a range of minimum pricing levels on consumption, health harms and crime, and other factors such as impact on the Exchequer and business. It will also consult on the ban on multi-buy promotions. The ALMR said it was concerned on two counts - it promotes minimum pricing as the primary solution and the suggestion that minimum pricing may be subject to indexation may prejudge the public consultation. The trade association also said it was concerned that an index related minimum pricing policy would simply give the Government control of pricing generally and not just problem pricing. ALMR strategic affairs director Kate Nicholls said: “The Government was quite clear in their Alcohol Strategy that this was to be a measure to tackle the plethora of pocket money priced alcohol promotions by supermarkets which are now acknowledged as the root cause of the problem. “If minimum pricing is to be introduced, it must be a floor below which prices cannot fall, not something which is subject to automatic indexation, if it is to tackle the irresponsible minority, not the responsible majority. “Pubs are already penalised by annual above inflation increases in the alcohol excise duty escalator, which has een pub prices soar over the past five years and we need a second annual price increase like a hole in the head. “With 70% of alcohol now bought and consumed at home, and widespread loss leading, punitive measures against pubs and bars are not delivering public policy objectives on health and crime and disorder. But pricing is only one piece of the jigsaw - it can only be effective as part of a wider framework of action to tackle unregulated supermarket sales. “We need measures to make it more expensive to drink at home and action to remove the horrendous regulatory and tax burdens which are crippling the pub, literally pricing many out of the market.”