Responsibility Deal

Launched by the Department of Health in March 2011, the Public Health Responsibility Deal brought together government, business, charities and other organisations to help improve the wellbeing of the nation.

‘Organisations signing up to the Responsibility Deal commit to taking action voluntarily to improve public health through their responsibilities as employers, as well as through their commercial actions and their community activities’ – Department of Health

Since then, the UK’s drinks producers have delivered a series of substantive pledges to improve labelling, cut units, fund alcohol education, and support community schemes to tackle alcohol harms. 


All sectors of the alcohol industry, including all major producers, were committed partners of the Responsibility Deal, and former Portman Group Chief Executive, Henry Ashworth, co-chaired the Alcohol Network (RDAN).

The first round of Responsibility Deal actions included commitments to ensure that the vast majority of alcoholic drinks on Britain's shop shelves are fully labelled with important health information, back the rigorous application of the Challenge 21 and Challenge 25 underage sales prevention schemes, and remove a billion units from the market.

"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.” – Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health


In July 2014 the Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network updated its raft of pledges with a number of fresh commitments welcomed by the Department of Health and the Home Office. Details of each of the pledges, and information on how to join RDAN are available below.

Key Pledges:

A1. Alcohol Labelling

A2. Awareness of Alcohol Units in the On Trade

A3. Awareness of Alcohol Units, Calories & Other Information in the Off Trade

A4. Tackling Under-Age Alcohol Sales

A5. Support for Drinkaware

A6. Advertising and Marketing Alcohol

A7. Community Actions to Tackle Alcohol Harms

A8. Alcohol Unit Reduction

A9. Lifeskills Education & Alcohol Education in Schools


The Portman Group was directly involved in several key pledges of the Responsibility Deal: 


A1. Alcohol Labelling

As part of the Government’s Responsibility Deal, the industry committed in 2011 to ensure that key health messages are included on drinks labels, including clear unit content, recommended daily guidelines and a warning about drinking when pregnant.

The aim of the pledge was to increase people's awareness and understanding of units, safe drinking guidelines and the Chief Medical Officer's advice on drinking during pregnancy. The Portman Group agreed the specification and compliance criteria with the Department of Health, and a target was set to ensure that 80% of on-shelf alcohol drinks labels contained this key health information by December 2013. 

In November 2014 it was confirmed by the Department of Health and independent auditors Campden BRI that the industry had hit the 80% target through voluntary action. 

“It is fantastic to see the surge of companies proactively placing these labels on their products and highlighting important health messages in pregnancy. I congratulate industry partners who have taken part, and urge others to follow suit.”  - Jane Ellison, Public Health Minister

Click here to read more about drinks producers hitting the labelling target
Click here to read more about responsible labelling guidelines
Click here to read more about the Labelling Pledge

A6. Advertising and Marketing Alcohol

The Portman Group announced a review of the Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks in March 2011 as part of a commitment to the Responsibility Deal.

The aim is to strengthen the Code so that it remains at the forefront of good practice and an exemplar of industry self-regulation. The review has ensured that there is seamless regulation with the Advertising Standards Authority and Ofcom.

The Portman Group consulted extensively over the past year, considering views from over one hundred stakeholders in developing the new Code. The new Code came into effect on 31 May 2013.

Click here to read more about the Code of Practice

Click here to read more about the Advertising and Marketing Alcohol Pledge


A7. Community Actions to Tackle Alcohol Harms

The drinks industry is committed to tackling health and social harms associated with alcohol misuse in those local areas where it is most needed. There are a number of industry-funded schemes that target alcohol misuse and promote safer, better managed night-time economies. These Local Alcohol Partnerships achieve this through close collaboration between local retailers, councils, police, healthcare providers, licensing authorities and the third sector. Local employers can play a key role in this partnership.

Local Alcohol Partnerships

Click here to read more about Local Alcohol Partnerships

A8(a). Alcohol Unit Reduction

The drinks industry pledged to remove 1 billion units of alcohol from the UK market by December 2015.

By lowering the strength of well-known brands and introducing new lower alcohol alternatives, the pledge aims to ‘foster a culture of responsible drinking which will help people drink within guidelines’.

This pledge offers a chance to reduce the amount of alcohol people consume without reducing the number of drinks that they purchase, thus improving public health without damaging the viability of business.


Click here to read more about the Unit Reduction Pledge.


The first interim monitoring report was released in April 2014, explaining the interim findings about progress that has been made towards the pledge.

This pledge was delivered in December 2014


 A8(b). Responsible Can Packaging

To back up efforts to cut a billion units from Britain's shelves, producers and retailers reviewed the container size and alcohol content of all of their products. Signatories to the pledge agreed not to produce or sell any carbonated product with more than four units of alcohol in a single-serve can after December 2014.


Click here to read more about the responsible can packaging pledge.