Lynne Neagle MS, Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing
On 2 March 2020, a minimum unit price of 50p was introduced for alcohol sold in Wales to help tackle alcohol-related harm by reducing the amount of alcohol drunk by hazardous and harmful drinkers.
We undertook to carry out a review of the minimum price for alcohol legislation after two years. This statement sets out how this will take place.
It will help us understand the current impact of the legislation, including the implications from the pandemic. It will also help us to understand whether the current pricing structure of 50p per unit is appropriate and is having the desired effects of reducing alcohol related harms.
We commissioned an independent evaluation of the Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Act 2018, which will take the form of a contribution analysis. This has four distinct parts (lots).
Lot 1: Contribution analysis
The contribution analysis is a theory-based evaluation method, appropriate to the review of complex, multi-level programmes of work where direct causal attributions are not possible. This approach is appropriate for evaluating the impact of minimum pricing as an MUP will not be the only factor which may impact on alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm.
The evaluation approach will take account of this and assess the contribution the policy has made to any observed changes in outcomes.
The contribution analysis will look at the wider context of alcohol policy and bring together the relevant datasets and the findings from the individual studies in Wales and evaluation work undertaken in Scotland to inform the assessment of the contribution that the introduction of minimum pricing has made to the policy objectives.
The report from this component of the evaluation can only be produced when the reports from the other three studies have been produced, as this brings all the elements together into the overall assessment.
Lot 2: Research into the impact on retailers
This element will assess the experience and impact of the implementation of the Act on retailers.
A baseline report from this element of the evaluation was published on 30 November 2021. It presents the first set of findings from longitudinal qualitative research with Welsh alcohol retailers undertaken before the introduction of the minimum price for alcohol in Wales.
The research explores retailers’ understanding and views of the minimum pricing policy prior to its introduction and their expectations for the effects of the policy. Interviews were conducted with 30 retailers from across five Welsh regions. The sample included independents and chains, large and small retailers, and a mix of alcohol licence types (on-trade, off-trade, and both). This baseline research will be followed by two further waves of interviews with retailers.
The report also incorporates the quantitative analysis plan, providing details on the methods to be used for evaluating the impact of the minimum price for alcohol on retailers, using Kantar data to make a quantitative assessment of the impact.
Lot 3: Work with services and service users
The aim of this qualitative research is to assess both the experience and impact of minimum pricing on services and service users (including exploring the extent to which switching between substances may have been a consequence of the legislation). An initial piece of work exploring this was commissioned to inform implementation of the Act. The report from this baseline work was published on 24 October 2019.
Data will be gathered though an online survey with service users and service providers. Interviews with both groups are also undertaken to explore findings in more detail.
Lot 4: Assessment of the impact of introducing minimum price for alcohol on wider population of drinkers.
The aim of this final component is to explore the impact of the minimum price for alcohol legislation on the wider population, including moderate, hazardous and harmful drinkers. A baseline report was published on 8 July 2021. The report focuses on data collected prior to the implementation of the policy in March 2020. The main aim of the study was to examine the potential impact of the new legislation on drinkers in Wales and to gather baseline information that can be used to monitor the impact of minimum pricing over the five-year study period.
Data were collected through online survey questionnaires which were completed by 179 drinkers recruited through social media advertisements and announcements on two Welsh university intranet websites. Interviews were conducted with 41 drinkers recruited through the National Survey for Wales, two universities, third sector organisations and the online survey.
A further report was published on 24 March 2022, presenting the results from a second wave of qualitative interviews from the longitudinal sample. The aim of this additional wave of interviews was to undertake a detailed qualitative study of the impact of the pandemic on the drinking behaviour of the longitudinal sample to provide context for future interpretation of the data.
Each of the four parts of the evaluation is undertaking fieldwork for an interim assessment of the implementation of the legislation. The findings from each of the four lots will be published during the autumn – the interim report from the contribution analysis is due in February 2023.
The findings of these evaluation lots will make up the two-year review. I will make a further written statement which will set out the key findings once the last of the evaluation reports has been published.
A further round of fieldwork will be undertaken for each component of the evaluation during autumn and winter 2023. These findings will contribute towards the final evaluation reports, which will be available during summer of 2024 and will inform the report on the operation and effect of the legislation, which Welsh Ministers are required to prepare under section 21 of the 2018 Act.
 Mayne, J. (2008) Contribution analysis: An approach to exploring cause and effect. The Institutional Learning and Change (ILAC) Initiative.