Budget Failed to Fund Alcohol Projects

b2ap3_thumbnail_alcohol-addiction.jpgAlcohol campaigners who are fighting for the government to take action over the ongoing issue of alcohol misuse in the UK have reacted angrily to the lack of spending on projects to highlight the risks of drinking too much in this week's Budget announcement.

Many charities and lobby groups reacted angrily to chancellor George Osborne's decision to introduce a one pence reduction to the price of an average pint of beer in a move that is intended to help the country's ailing pub industry.

The decision came as a surprise to individuals, as it reflected a complete reversal of past Budget commitments to annually increase beer duty by two percentage points above inflation until 2015.


Health professionals may be pleased that taxes on all other types of alcohol were increased with the so-called "duty escalator", which is an increase in charges on alcohol every year set at two percentage points.

However, this small increase was not enough to ensure campaigners were satisfied with the Budget announcement.

Eric Appleby, chief executive of charity Alcohol Concern, noted that too many people are "suffering from crime and poor health" due to misuse of beer, wine and spirits.

He explained: "If we're to get to grips with this problem, and we must, the government has to take the lead and target strong, cheap alcohol - the kind drunk by the most vulnerable in our society, the young and the very heavy drinkers.

"Although the chancellor said the government will look at plans to tackle cheap, strong booze we cannot delay - we urgently need to see a firm commitment to introduce a minimum unit price, a measure which all the evidence shows will save lives and cut crime."

Earlier this month, prime minister David Cameron's decision to abandon plans for a minimum alcohol price was met with dismay from campaigners.

Officials confirmed the government would not implement previous plans for a 45 pence per unit cost, despite the fact Mr Cameron had argued making drinks more expensive would limit alcohol drinking.

However, several ministers argued that the minimum price would only serve as a punishment for those who drink responsibly, as policymakers argued it would reduce tax revenues at a time when the public finances remain strained.

Meanwhile, a lack of commitment to alcohol treatment projects in this week's Budget announcement has not deterred similar schemes from continuing work to help people prevent physical and mental problems through drinking.

A £241,708 grant from the Big Lottery Fund has been awarded to a programme that aims to warn young women and teenagers of the dangers of consuming excessive amounts of the substance.

Among the organisations helped by the Reaching Communities programme is Bright Futures, which has set out to work with 720 young women in South Tyneside aged between 11 and 25 in a bid to encourage them to make healthy choices and find hobbies.

Commenting on the launch of the initiative, Tessa Wiley - spokeswoman from the Big Lottery Fund - said young people from deprived areas often misuse alcohol for several reasons and this scheme is aiming to prevent that from happening.

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