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Disagreement of the cost of alcohol abuse to the UK economy

A new study titled 'Alcohol and the Public Purse' has found that the direct costs to the UK government of drinking alcohol in England – including NHS, police, criminal justice and welfare costs – are significantly lower that than the revenues from alcohol taxes. The costs amount to just under £4 billion each year while the revenues amount to over £10 billion. The research was carried out by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).

It claims to demonstrate, “contrary to popular belief”, that drinkers are not a burden on the taxpayer.

However, health charity Alcohol Concern argue that the cost of alcohol abuse to the taxpayer, calculated by the government, is actually £21 billion.

The report's author Christopher Snowden says this figure is extremely misleading in that it combines the social and economic costs – “most of which are paid by individuals and businesses” – with the costs to government departments.

In response to the IEA report, Emily Robinson, deputy chief executive of Alcohol Concern, disputed its £10 billion figure. She also said that it is non-drinkers that have to suffer the consequences of alcohol-related problems in society.