New figures released today by Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, reveal the estimated cost for alcohol harm to Teesside, hitting front line public services and employers with a staggering bill of around £241.1 million in 2015/16.
High alcohol consumption is taking its toll on taxpayers and businesses every year through hospital admissions, crime and disorder, sickness, absenteeism and lost productivity among staff working for Teesside employers, and in social services support for families affected by alcohol issues.
These figures would equate to £428 for every man, woman and child in Teesside.
In 2015/16 alcohol was estimated to have cost Teesside:
- £44.4 million in NHS and healthcare for services such as hospital admissions, A&E attendances, ambulance callouts and also treatment for alcohol dependency.
- £86.7 million in crime and disorder, including 14,300 cases of criminal damage, 48,800 cases of theft and 6,100 cases of violence against the person.
- £78.6 million lost to local businesses and employers through absenteeism, lost productivity and alcohol related deaths, including 113,900 days off due to alcohol.
- £31.3 million in costs to children and adults’ social services and substance misuse services.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, said: “It’s concerning to hear that alcohol cost the North East £331m in crime and disorder in 2015/16, particularly at a time when police resources are continuing to struggle against cuts from central government. Action must be taken to ease this pressure on emergency services, while prioritising the health of the public.
“That’s why I fully endorse the use of minimum unit pricing and I recently joined Balance in lobbying the government to introduce a tougher levy on cheap white ciders. By appropriately pricing the most harmful alcohol, there is a good chance vulnerable drinkers will be forced to reduce consumption, which is a benefit not only to themselves, but to public services.”
Colin Shevills, Director at Balance, said: “All of us are paying dearly for alcohol misuse, whether people drink or not. High alcohol consumption wrecks families, impacts on workplaces and is a drain on the NHS and police at a time when they are coping with huge budget pressures.
“Meanwhile alcohol is promoted around the clock on TV, billboards and social media, and sold too cheaply through cut price deals in supermarkets and convenience stores, especially in poorer areas where people suffer the worst ill health.
“What is needed now is action at national level to put health and public services above the interests of major alcohol corporations.
"Pricing alcohol by its strength and increasing tax on the type of strong cheap white cider popular with street drinkers and teenagers would save thousands of lives and reduce the burden on our front line services.“
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones MBE, Interim Director of Public Health for Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “It is very clear from this report just how hard the harmful effects of alcohol are hitting every aspect of life in Hartlepool with a huge impact on the local NHS, local police services, council services and employers.
“Just think what a difference we would see if we could halve the impact of alcohol, currently £430 a year for every man, woman and child – how much more quickly you could be seen in A&E or visit your GP, how much more visible the local police could be, how much more support social services could give to older people and how many more jobs employers might be able to generate.
“Most importantly though, how much better would you feel if you halved your alcohol intake, how much better your health would be and how much more money you would have in your pocket for those things that you can’t afford at the moment for you and your family.”
These figures show alcohol is costing us more than it is generating. An evidence review of the public health burden of alcohol published by Public Health England in December 2016 estimated the annual cost of alcohol to the UK to be between 1.3% and 2.7% of annual GDP - between £27 billion and £52 billion in 2016. In comparison, tax and duty on alcohol generate around £10bn to the exchequer each year.
Find out the cost in your area by clicking the links below:
Posted on Thursday 13th July 2017