Trade demands more balanced alcohol statistics

By Ellie Bothwell contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Public health england, Alcohol health alliance, Alcohol abuse

Industry figures say local economies and communities are net beneficiaries from our industry
Industry figures say local economies and communities are net beneficiaries from our industry
Leading industry figures are calling on the Government to produce more accurate and balanced statistics on alcohol, after claiming recent council reports include “flawed” data that amount to “meaningless propaganda”.

Members of the trade say statistics produced by local and national Government to justify clamping down on the night-time economy fail to report that the benefits of pubs far outweigh their cost to the economy.

The claims were made following last Friday’s (5 September) National Day of Action on Alcohol Harm, organised by the Alcohol Health Alliance to tackle the reputed £21bn annual cost of drink-related harm.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority launched a new strategy to tackle alcohol abuse last month after stating that excessive drinking costs the region £1.2bn each year.

The figure was worked out using an equation agreed by the Government and Public Health England, which includes costs of hospital admissions, crimes attributed to alcohol, licensing and unemployment among heavy drinkers.

However, latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that alcohol-related crime has dropped 32% in the past decade.

'One-sided picture'

Alcohol policy commentator Paul Chase said Greater Manchester’s figure is “mostly based upon flawed mathematical models”.

“Quantifying costs without quantifying benefits means we cannot calculate net costs — or net benefits as the case may be,” he said.

“A one-sided picture is just meaningless propaganda designed to alarm public opinion in order to justify a bit of booze-bashing.”

Last year, Public Health England altered the way it reports alcohol-related hospital admission statistics, separating primary and secondary diagnoses instead of including them in one lump figure. The trade has suggested a similar change should be adopted for all alcohol figures.

“We know that the old NHS method of calculating alcohol–related hospital admission episodes produced a figure of 1.2 m admissions a year for England as a whole. The new method says it is just below 200,000 a year,” Chase added.

Kate Nicholls, strategic affairs director at the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, said the Mayor’s Office and Greater London Assembly is the only department that puts the costs of the alcohol industry alongside its benefits.

'Net beneficiaries'

“It shows time and again that local economies and communities are net beneficiaries from our industry — with an average cost benefit ratio of 1:8, rising to 1:26 in city centres,” she said.

“This means that for every £1 spent on tackling alcohol related harm, our industry generates £26 to invest in the local economy. We need to make sure this is reflected in the national debate.”

Last week, licensees in Southampton slammed the authority’s use of “flawed data” that is not specific to the late-night levy period to justify introducing the fee.

However, Southampton City Council said whether the cost police spend after midnight is “80% of the total or 50% is not considered
to be a salient factor” as it does not need to provide “forensic data”.

Public Health England said there are no plans to apply changes to “statistical reporting methodologies”.

Economic input from pubs

Taxes paid by pub trade

          £m

Alcohol Excise Duties

       1,665

VAT

       3,297

Business Rates

          625

Employment Taxes (employer)

          245

Employment Taxes (employee)

          545

Corporation Tax

          454

Other duties and levies

            77

Licensing & Regulatory costs

          350

Total taxation and regulatory costs

       7,258

Source: The British Beer & Pub Association 2014

Related topics: Legislation

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4 comments

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One, two, three - it's el-e-ment-ar-y.

Posted by david,

It's interesting that those who think the statistics on the costs of alcohol harm somehow imagine statistics on the benefits of alcohol can be gathered let alone gain acceptance.

Presumably jobs in the alcohol industry will be on the 'benefits' side of the equation. So the wages earned within the pub & supermarket industry will be analysed to determine what proportion is generated from alcohol sales as opposed to sales of other goods? That's REAL wages i.e. jobs created by an outlet selling alcohol over and above the jobs count without it selling alcohol.

Fascinating. Seems to me there are an awful lot of statisticians going to be required.

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Lies, Damned Lies & Alcohol Health Alliance

Posted by John Ellis,

The Government has an independent Office of National Statistics, which is not afraid to disprove dodgy "statistics" produced as evidence by Government bodies. About time someone refers all the "facts" to the O.N.S.! The P.M.A. is an ideal body to lead the charge and take a stand (mixed metaphors - sorry). With its journalist resource and easy access to a back catalogue of all the facts and stories, thousands of us would back the P.M.A. to get the truth out to our M.P.'s etc. BEFORE the general election!

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Time to respond

Posted by Alan,

Why are our various trade bodies not getting these critical points out into the public to protect our industry from the ongoing degradation of our reputation and integrity? I appreciate it is not as simple as that, however, the press and media love a good argument as much as they love to give a good uncontested bashing, and surely the trade bodies have contacts in the press and media with whom they can get rebuttal included into their publications? I've been doing it locally and am now regularly contacted by our local press for comments/statements on the LNL and similar issues!

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