Alcohol costs county £120m

New figures released yesterday by Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, have revealed that alcohol is costing Northumberland over £120million each year – with almost half of this figure attributed to costs to the workplace and wider economy.

Alcohol is costing Northumberland’s workplace and wider economy £54.2million annually. This includes 63,998 alcohol-related sick days which equates to over £6.5million. There were also 1,125 potential working years of life lost to alcohol-related premature mortality – which works out at over £31million.

The total cost of alcohol in Northumberland now stands at an estimated £120.22m* each year. The full cost breakdown shows that in 2011/12:

Alcohol misuse cost the NHS £31.53million

Alcohol-related crime and licensing cost £27.01million. In this period there were an estimated 13,449 recorded alcohol-related crimes in the region.

£8.39million was spent by the local authority on social services involving alcohol.

Alcohol cost the workplace and wider economy £54.2m.

This equates to a total cost of £120.22million - the equivalent of £380 for every man, woman and child.

On a national scale, alcohol misuse costs society around £21.3billion each year.

This is broken down into a cost of £4.1billion to the NHS, £6.9billion caused by crime and licensing, £8.9billion in costs to the workplace and wider economy and £1.7billion on social services for children and families affected by alcohol misuse.

Colin Shevills, director at Balance, said: “We’ve seen a noticeable increase in the cost to the workplace and the wider economy, and this is in addition to the millions of pounds that continue to burden our health service, our police forces and our communities. Alcohol truly is affecting every aspect of our society. This can’t continue.

“Cheap alcohol that is too available and too heavily-promoted is a fundamental factor in the damage we see and more needs to be done to reduce the alcohol harms that the region is forced to deal with on a daily basis.

“The region’s three police forces, the health community, publicans and the majority of the public here in the North East support a minimum unit price for alcohol. A minimum unit price will save thousands of lives, reduce hospital admissions, drastically cutting crime and save hundreds of thousands of working days lost through absenteeism.

“As the evidence base continues to grow, we need Government to put it back on the agenda to form part of a package of measures which will tackle alcohol on a national, regional and local level.”

Coun Susan Dungworth, the policy board member for adult care and public health, said: “There is a lot of reliance upon alcohol and we, in Northumberland, would like to support a minimum unit price for alcohol. There is consistent evidence that to limit the availability of alcohol through a minimum unit price will lead to a reduction in consumption, and, in turn reductions in alcohol related harm.”

“The effect of a minimum unit price will be to reduce harms associated with alcohol, which include the number and associated costs of alcohol related crimes, alcohol related health problems and deaths. Hopefully this will add to our well-being and help to promote our healthy lifestyle choices.”