The Chief Scientist Office has published results from a study looking at the impact of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) on homeless drinkers, street drinkers, and the support services working with them.

The qualitative research was led by Glasgow Caledonian University and used in-depth interviews with homeless and street drinkers about their drinking and related behaviour since MUP was introduced in 2018.

Findings show that the experience and understanding of MUP varied among this group. For some MUP worked as intended and discouraged from drinking, others however were unaffected, some switched drinks, and a minority experienced unintended consequences such as exacerbating a tendency to beg or steal to obtain alcohol.

Support service providers and other stakeholders working with this population, such as the Third sector, NHS, Police and Local Authority Housing and Social Work departments, found that MUP had negligible or no impact on services, and opportunities to exploit the benefits were missed.

Clare Beeston, Evaluation Team Head at Public Health Scotland, said:

“To date our existing evidence suggests that MUP can reduce drinking in the general population but we had little evidence of the impact on vulnerable groups.

“These findings provide a valuable insight into real life experiences and awareness of vulnerable groups, and is the first time we have evaluated the impact of MUP on the homeless and street drinking populations.

“This study is one of a number of studies funded by other research grant providers that will contribute to the portfolio of studies to evaluate the impact of MUP. This study provides important evidence to consider alongside other findings”.

For the purpose of this study, street drinking is defined as people drinking in public places because they do not have access to domestic space allowing alcohol consumption and/or cannot afford to drink in pubs.

Find out about the separately funded studies in the evaluation of MUP.

For more information, read the full paper (external website).  

Last updated: 06 October 2022