Binge drinking ‘costs UK £4.9bn’


Published: Tuesday 31st March 2015 by The News Editor

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Binge drinking is costing UK taxpayers £4.9 billion a year, a study has suggested.

Researchers looked at a number of immediate factors upon which binge drinking has an effect, such as A&E admissions, road accidents and police officers on duty.

They estimated that binge drinking increases the average daily number of injury-related admissions to A&E by 8% – equivalent to 2,504 additional daily admissions nationally.

The average number of road accidents each day go up by 17% – equivalent to 82 additional accidents a day nationally – while they said the average number of alcohol-related arrests increases by 45%, which is equivalent to 786 additional arrests per day nationally.

The problems associated with binge drinking also lead to the number of police officers on duty having to be increased by around 30%, equivalent to an additional 3.2 police officers on duty at the weekend for every 10,000 people in the country, researchers said.

The team from University of Bath’s Institute for Policy Research and the University of Essex calculated the cost of all these measures to be the equivalent of £77 per year in the UK, or a combined £4.9 billion.

The figure does not take the long-term costs of binge drinking into account, such as reduced productivity, lost employment and health problems, and was worked out by using data from a number of government departments.

They said to offset these costs, policy recommendations such as including a 52 pence minimum unit price for alcohol and an increase in alcohol excise duty directly in line with alcohol strength should be considered.

This could see a pint of beer increase by 23 pence, and a bottle of wine by 99 pence.

The study also said it is clear that more needs to be done to address the social factors leading to binge drinking, which they defined as the consumption of 12 or more units of alcohol in any one period of drinking, typically taking place on a Friday or Saturday night among individuals aged 18 to 30.

Dr Jonathan James, of the University of Bath, said: “Much is known about the effects and costs of sustained heavy drinking in relation to increased risks of chronic diseases, the damage to social relationships and the increased burden placed on public services.

“However, little is known about the economic and social effects of binge drinking.

“We hope this calculation of the economic costs can act as a catalyst for policy makers in the UK to take targeted action that reduce the cost of binge drinking to society.”

Published: Tuesday 31st March 2015 by The News Editor

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