Study says increased levies are needed

A NEW ‘treatment levy’ should be imposed on alcohol duties to help deal with the harm caused by heavy drinking, MPs and health groups have said.

Ministers have been urged to bring forward a wide-ranging alcohol strategy to improve support for those in need, minimise costs to the NHS, and help tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder.

The push for a policy overhaul comes from the Drugs, Alcohol and Justice Cross Party Parliamentary Group, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Harm and 30 civil society groups.

Help for dependent drinkers should be part funded by the introduction of a one per cent ‘treatment levy’ on alcohol duty, the study recommended.

This would help alleviate pressure on the NHS as it is forecast drink-related issues will cost the health service £17bn over the next five years.

Dr Richard Piper, of Alcohol Research UK, said imposing a levy of one per cent above RPI would be equivalent to an extra 3p on an average pint of beer, and would raise £100m a year to improve services and cut costs to the NHS by up to £300m per year.

The report said the increased availability of cheap alcohol needs to be ‘urgently tackled’ and argues minimum unit pricing should be brought in as part of a post-Brexit review of alcohol costs which takes into account the strength of drinks on sale.

The drink driving blood alcohol content limit should also be reduced to 50mg/100ml in line with Scotland, the study adds.