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Worrying rise in alcohol deaths in the North East in 2020

Balance responds to the Budget


Balance responds to Government’s decision to freeze alcohol duty

Balance today joined the Alcohol Health Alliance in describing the freeze in alcohol duty in Budget 2021 as a “huge blow to the health of the nation” and a measure which will make it harder for pubs to compete.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, deaths caused by alcohol have hit a new record high in England and Wales and high-risk drinking increased by almost 90% between February and September last year. It was estimated there were 8m people drinking at higher risk levels , with alcohol treatment services struggling to cope .

A survey of shops and supermarkets found it is possible to drink the low-risk weekly guideline of 14 units for around £2.68 - the same price as a high street coffee . Deaths caused by alcohol in the North East increased by 15% in the first nine months of 2020, most of them from alcohol-related liver disease .

Our Director, Colin Shevills, said: “Once again in this budget the profits of the alcohol industry has been put above our nation’s health.

“Alcohol places a huge burden on our NHS and public services and the impact of the last year – with millions more drinking at higher risk levels – can only make this worse. We are already seeing a record rise in deaths from alcohol in 2020.

“At the root of this problem is that strong alcohol is too cheap. This has a catastrophic impact on health, but also harms pubs, who cannot compete with the prices of alcohol sold on the shelves of supermarkets.

“We are calling on the Government for a new, evidence-based alcohol strategy for England, which focuses on harm prevention, and pricing policies that reduce the widespread availability of cheap alcohol, to bring an end to the rising burden of alcohol-harm and death.”

Read more here.