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Government praises drinks industry's on Responsibility Deal as new pledges announced

Published:  08 July, 2014

The drinks industry has been roundly praised by the Home Office and Department of Health for the "real progress" it has made in tackling alcohol misuse via the Responsibility Deal.

Responsibility OKThe government has praised the steps taken by the drinks trade on the Responsibility DealSource: (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)Home secretary Theresa May welcomed the progress the drinks industry has made to date, while announcing six new pledges. She was joined in her praise of the trade by Jeremy Hunt, health secretary.

Home secretary Theresa May welcomed the "progress the alcohol industry has made so far" on the Responsibility Deal as six new pledges were announced today.

Meanwhile, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "Our Responsibility Deal has made real progress, as the industry is taking one billion units out of the market and has agreed to provide labelling which includes health warnings and unit information.

"The new pledges will help people to drink responsibly and make healthier choices."

Among the new pledges are commitments to adhere to good practice guidelines for the responsible retailing of alcohol in the off-trade and boost the availability of low alcohol products in the on-trade. These pledges are in addition to the eight core pledges that form the Responsibility Deal already agreed by the trade and government.

The new pledges involve:

  • supporting local areas to tackle anti-social behaviour by rolling out alcohol partnership schemes in Local Alcohol Action Areas by the end of 2015
  • introducing new good practice guidance for the responsible retailing of alcohol in the off-trade
  • some producers reviewing carbonated products in single serve cans so they do not contain more than four units of alcohol
  • offering lower alcohol house wines below 12.5% and lower and no-alcohol beers in pubs, bars and restaurants to help people drink within recommended guidelines
  • providing £250,000 to kick start funding for new education programmes in schools
  • committing to train 10,000 pub, bar and retail staff by 2016 to gain a responsible alcohol retailing qualification

Trade reaction

Home secretary Theresa May welcomed the progress the drinks industry has made to date, while announcing six new pledges. She was joined in her praise of the trade by Jeremy Hunt, health secretary.(Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said:  "Tackling alcohol-related harm is a key priority for the drinks industry and we are pleased that WSTA members have taken a leading role in developing a further set of practical measures designed to tackle the complex problem of alcohol misuse in the UK. 

"The commitment to develop good practice guidance for the responsible retailing of alcohol represents an unprecedented level of co-operation between retailers."

The Portman Group's chief executive Henry Ashworth said: "UK drinks producers and retailers have a strong track record in delivering programmes of voluntary activity to support government in tackling anti-social behaviour caused by alcohol misuse.

"As responsible businesses, we are determined to play our part and have set out a whole new programme of voluntary actions in response to the challenge set by the Home Secretary.

"Working in partnership with business is a great way to get positive change happening quickly in towns and cities throughout the UK."

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: "It is in everyone's interest to reduce alcohol-related harm, and responsible brewers and pubs are committed to working with the government to achieve real results.

"Through our new on-trade pledge we have undertaken to encourage lower alcohol products, in pubs, at events and promoted through social media.

"It shows that industry can work in partnership with government to make progress."

Minister for Public Health, Jane Ellison, revealed that the industry has met its target by achieving 79.3% on its pledge to feature important health information on 80% of labels on shelf by the end of 2013.

Sir Martin Narey, chairman of the Portman Group added that he had been "very encouraged by the preparedness of producers to act to reduce the harm caused by alcohol misuse, demonstrating they are brave enough to do more than simply offer warm words about responsible drinking". 

The six additional pledges were presented to ministers yesterday, July 7, 2014. Different partners will sign up to each of the pledges as appropriate.

* Harpers launched its Responsibility OK campaign back in 2011 to help businesses at all levels of the drinks industry take the steps necessary to comply with the Responsibility Deal, but equally get the credit and publicity for doing so. 

Email Gemma McKenna or tweet @harperswine using the #responsibilityok hashtag and let us know what your company is doing to promote responsible drinking. 

There is also still time to get involved and play your part in helping the drinks industry comply with the Responsiblity Deal. Details on how you can back the scheme in our Responsiblity OK section of our Campaigns area of