The spring budget and alcohol duty unpacked
The spring budget featured some important updates on alcohol duty – but what does it all mean? The Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) has published a report analysing the contents and making several recommendations.
Cumulatively, duty cuts will cost the Treasury over £23.9 billion from 2013–2028, compared with if duty had been raised in line with inflation, which could have covered the cost of alcohol harm to the NHS for 3 years.
Most alcohol duty is expected to be uprated in August in line with RPI inflation, aside from products covered by the draught relief, for which duty will decrease in real terms. After these changes, alcohol duty will still be much lower than it was in 2012/13.
The alcohol duty system will be reformed from August 2023 to a strength-based system. While the IAS supports the shift to a more proportionate taxation system, there remain a number of concerns and recommendations:
- The rates are set too low – they should at least cover the £27 billion cost of alcohol harm to society.
- Cider is still being preferentially treated with lower rates than beer of the same strength, which is likely to continue to cause harm and should be equalised.
- Duty should be de-politicised and automatically uprated in line with inflation or earnings yearly, instead of being considered at each budget.
Fighting addiction and families: Matt Willis and Scottish Families in new BBC documentary
Fighting Addiction sees Busted’s Matt Willis open up about his struggles with addiction and the pressure it puts on his family.
The documentary features family members in support services run by Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs, shedding light on the ‘ripple effect’ of alcohol and drug use.
With around 4 million adults in the UK dealing with the negative impacts of a friend or family member’s drinking, Vivienne Evans, chief executive of Adfam, said: ‘Family and friends can often face things like stress, abuse, isolation, mental health difficulties and financial strain,’ and should not be forgotten.
The documentary aired on Wednesday 17 May on BBC One, and you can watch back here.
Changing Lives celebrates first Oaktrees Online graduation
Following the increase in online treatment delivery seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, Changing Lives has launched a digital path of their 12-week abstinence-based programme, Oaktrees. The pilot service has been rolled out across Northumberland and has recently celebrated their first graduation.
This online offer allows people to access an alternative to the face-to-face treatment offer while still receiving support from a named worker. Oaktrees Online enables participants flexibility to fit the treatment programme around their current lives and schedules, making it accessible to those in employment or with family responsibilities.
The Oaktrees Online programme therefore supports Changing Lives’ wider aims to break down barriers to accessing treatment and support more people to remain abstinent and live fulfilling lives.
Alcohol prices and violence: the April effect
New evidence from the Violence Research Group at Cardiff University has reported a link between the price of alcohol and violence-related injury across England and Wales.
The study looked at the real price of alcohol and found an inverse relationship with the rate of violence-related injury, which was particularly strong for the prices of spirits, but not wine. The paper also identified an ‘April effect’ on violence-related injuries recorded at emergency departments that coincided with the annual uprating of alcohol duty between 2005 and 2014.
Considering the immense pressure alcohol puts on accident and emergency services, this research provides important evidence for alcohol duty policies can be used to reduce the incidence of violent injury and the associated health costs.
Early bird tickets for the MCA 2023 annual symposium on alcohol, health and inequalities
The MCA annual symposium 2023 on alcohol-related health harm is a key event for health professionals working in the alcohol and health field. The programme is aimed at clinicians and researchers across disciplines and specialties, highlighting both new research and policy and practical applications.
This year, the symposium will focus on the complex relationship between alcohol harm and social inequalities and its public health impact. There will also be sessions on the forthcoming UK clinical guidelines on alcohol treatment and on the update of the NICE quality standard on alcohol use disorders. The Max Glatt memorial lecture will be given by Professor Anne Lingford-Hughes.
Early bird tickets are on sale now and will be available until Monday 24 July.
Gendered alcohol brand marketing in a changing world: Exploring the targeting and representation of women, and the implications
Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems/Scottish Alcohol Research Network
20 June 2023, 12.45–2pm
Alcohol use in the cost-of-living crisis
Institute of Alcohol Studies
22 June 2023, 2–3pm
AHA parliamentary reception
Alcohol Health Alliance UK and Dan Carden MP
11 July 2023, 9.30–11am
Invites to follow
Reshaping Scotland’s night-time economy: Public and stakeholder views on the changing role of alcohol post-COVID-19
Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems/Scottish Alcohol Research Network
25 July 2023, 12.45–2pm
MCA annual symposium on alcohol and health
Medical Council on Alcohol
22 November 2023
Royal College of Physicians London, NW1 4LE
Early bird tickets available here
Meet the members
Every month, we speak to a member of the AHA to find out more about what they do and how their organisation is working to end alcohol harm.
Today we meet Jessica Turner, a registered adult nurse, who has been undertaking a development post in public health at the Royal College of Nursing since August 2022.
How does your organisation help to reduce alcohol harm?
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) represents almost half a million nurses, student nurses, midwives and nursing support workers in the UK and internationally. Our members work across the private, public, and voluntary sector and are often in positions to influence people’s attitude and consumption of alcohol not just at an individual level with patients or clients, but also at a community and population level.
We work with our members in several ways, including to lobby governments and other bodies across the UK to develop, influence and implement policy that improves the quality of patient care. We are committed to lifelong learning and the development of our members, and we promote and engage in nursing research, recognising that high-quality nursing research has the power to transform patient care. We develop publications and clinical learning resources, to ensure best practice is shared and maintained across the nursing workforce.
What inspires you most in your job?
I am inspired by the contribution our RCN members make to public health. They are committed to providing the best possible care and for striving for health equity for all. In relation to alcohol harm, although most nursing staff’s work takes place with individuals, they can be instrumental in changing attitudes and reducing overall consumption by understanding the cultural and social attitudes to alcohol within the local community or population. The insight and expertise from our members are vital to our work influencing and implementing change and ultimately improving the health of individuals.
What change do you think would make the biggest difference in reducing alcohol harm?
The factors affecting people’s health are complex and to tackle it we need a whole-system approach. This includes support from professionals but equally vital are changes to the wider environment, to enable individuals to make healthy changes. There are significant gaps in the nursing workforce that is critical for addressing health inequalities. There must be a cross-departmental strategy for improving health and reducing health inequalities which includes action on the wider determinants of health.