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Home Office Minister praises drinks industry efforts at Alcohol Concern conference

Published:  20 November, 2014

Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone praised the drinks industry for the steps it has taken as part of the Responsibility Deal, and said local communities were best-placed to solve alcohol-related problems, in a speech at the Alcohol Concern conference yesterday.

Home Office's Lynne Featherstone MP to appear at Alcohol Concern conferenceHome Office's Lynne Featherstone MP praised steps taken by the indsutry at the Alcohol Concern conferenceFeatherstone said yesterday that local action was best to tackle specific harms, and praised the indsutry, adding that she will be monitoring progress.

Featherstone also said she understood that many were "disappointed" with the government's decision not to proceed with minimum unit pricing, adding it was "not permanently off the table".

But she said: "The pause on minimum pricing did present an opportunity for the alcohol industry to step up and show that it could do more to promote responsible drinking and address the harm caused by alcohol."

The Minister said: "It is right that the industry takes its responsibilities seriously", and praised the commitment to remove 1 billion units adding, "we challenged the industry to do more and they have responded".

"I believe that communities are well placed to identify and deal with alcohol related problems in their area. In turn, the government will continue to work in partnership with local areas to create the right framework for these initiatives to succeed.

"We will also continue to remind the alcohol industry of their responsibilities."

Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group, said: "The specific problems faced by local areas are best solved by councils, police, industry and community groups working together, and I am delighted the Minister has recognised this approach as effective. 

"Binge drinking and alcohol-related crime have fallen significantly in the last decade - our high streets are becoming safer, healthier places to socialise. But some areas continue to suffer disproportionately and these communities need the most support.

"The drinks industry is a valued member of local partnerships across the country and is voluntarily providing a range of tools - from ID schemes to education programmes - to tackle harms where they persist."

The Portman Group has published an infographic, highlighting the range of tools that the drinks industry is using to help tackle alcohol harms and promote responsible drinking.

Recent polling, carried out by YouGov, showed that the Police and members of the public attributed falling rates of alcohol-related crime to better town centre management and better partnership working.

Under the government's Responsibility Deal, drinks companies have voluntarily committed to support local authorities and the police in tackling alcohol harms with industry-led schemes such as PASS, Best Bar None, Pubwatch, Purple Flag and Community Alcohol Partnerships.

Industry has also delivered better health information on product labels, funded education programmes in schools, and is in the process of taking 1 billion units of alcohol out of the market by 2015.