BBC Home > BBC News > Scotland

Alcohol misuse 'costing 2.25bn'

6 May 08 14:44 GMT

Official figures have revealed that the misuse of alcohol is costing Scotland £2.25bn per year.

A report by the Scottish Government's Health Analytical Services Division said the latest statistics were more than double previous estimates.

It looked at the cost to business, the NHS, police and courts service.

However, the Scottish Beer and Pub Association (SBPA), whose members operate 1,500 pubs in Scotland, has questioned the figures.

It said it was hard to believe the figures had gone up by so much.

The government said it had earmarked £120m over the next three years to combat the growing problem of alcohol abuse.

The report said the costs were spread over the NHS which spends some £405m; social work services plough in £170m and criminal justice and the fire service pay a bill of £385m.

The wider economic costs were thought to be in the region of £820m and the human and social costs were about £470m.

It is believed that lower productivity at work and days off from hangovers could be costing Scottish business £400m.

The use of hospital beds to treat drinkers could be costing the NHS more than £150m, while alcohol is costing A&E services another £32.3m.

Police response to alcohol misuse is estimated to be using £288m of resources. Alcohol is assumed to be behind 40% of violent crimes.

Premature deaths caused by alcohol abuse are estimated to be costing Scotland £328m.

Shona Robison, Minister for Public Health, said: "It's clear that the cost to Scotland from alcohol misuse cuts across services, including the NHS, the police, courts and social services - and also has a huge knock-on effect on our economy.

"Alcohol misuse isn't just damaging our health and straining our services, it's holding back our potential as a nation.

Top priority

"The report also points out that there are a great many intangible costs to Scottish society from alcohol misuse - how do you put a price on domestic violence, child neglect or family grief".

She said the figures were a reminder that Scotland's alcohol problem was one of the biggest challenges the county faced and that was why the government was making it one of its top priorities.

Ms Robison added: "That's why, over the next three years, we will invest over £120m to help prevent alcohol misuse, and provide support and treatment to those who need it."

Patrick Browne, chief executive of the Scottish Beer and Pub Association, said he recognised that alcohol misuse in Scottish society needed to be tackled and his industry was committed to playing its part.

However, he added: "Equally, where figures for the scale of the problem can only be described as 'estimates' and are not 'robust' we should be careful not to place too much emphasis on them.

"We shouldn't forget that the industry is currently in the midst of delivering the process of licensing reform in Scotland which is designed to tackle many of the issues which have been raised in today's research".

Related BBC sites

*