Binge drinking costs nearly £5billion a year

Research by the University of Bath says binge drinking costs the tax payer billions Credit: PA: Dominic Lipinski

Research by the University of Bath and the University of Essex has concluded the effects of binge drinking costs the UK £4.9 billion a year.

Academics looked at a range of social and economic factors, including A&E admissions, road accidents, arrests and police officers on duty to come up with the figure.

The combined £4.9 billion total costs each person in the UK the equivalent of £77 per year.

The team estimates that binge drinking increases the average daily number of injury-related admissions to A&E by 8% - equivalent to 2,504 additional daily admissions nationally.

The average number of road accidents each day go up by 17% - equivalent to 82 additional accidents a day nationally - while they say the average number of alcohol-related arrests increases by 45%, which is equivalent to 786 additional arrests per day nationally.

Much is known about the effects and costs of sustained heavy drinking in relation to increased risks of chronic diseases, the damage to social relationships and the increased burden placed on public services. However, little is known about the economic and social effects of binge drinking.

We hope this calculation of the economic costs can act as a catalyst for policy makers in the UK to take targeted action that reduce the cost of binge drinking to society.

– Dr Jonathan James, University of Bath

To offset these costs the researchers suggest a 52p minimum unit price for alcohol and an increase in alcohol excise duty directly in line with alcohol strength should be considered. This could see a pint of beer increase by 23p, and a bottle of wine by 99p.

Because the pre-election period has now begun the Department of Health is unable to issue a response but suggests those concerned should look at its website for more information. Click here for link.