Monday, 18 November 2013

The soaring cost of alcohol to society

The last time I updated this was back in June 2013, when we were told that alcohol costs our country £25 billion each year, which was up from £16.2 billion back in 2011.

Good news, chaps, somebody didn't read the memo and the new made-up figure is now a more modest £21 billion a year!

(On closer inspection it turns out that this is an old figure which Factcheck debunked last year).

Even more bizarre was today's FT which baldly stated that Britain's binge drinking epidemic costs the taxpayer £21bn a year.

Well whoopie doo. I could have told them that. A couple of years ago we were told that the government gets £14.6 bn a year from duty and VAT on alcohol, we can add on another half for PAYE and corporation tax paid by brewers, pubs etc, there's your £21 billion right there. That's exactly what it costs taxpayers.

In other news: Going to work costs employees (and employers) £234 billion a year.

13 comments:

Sackerson said...

So the hoorays balance out the booze?

Kj said...

At the factcheck site, where you get the breakdown, it´s easy to dismiss all the "costs" in the category "workplace/economy". It´s not payable costs for the state. It also entirely ignores the benefits of alcohol use. The 14 bn is probably more than enough.

paulc156 said...

To be fair there are lots of costs which might be termed social or societal costs due to the part alcohol plays in marriage and relationship breakdown. Impossible to cost but hard to ignore.

Mark Wadsworth said...

S, you've lost me.

Kj, exactly.

PC, sure, some people can't handle booze. But think about it, without the gentle cloud of booze to give us some relief from the daily grind, to enhance social and family get togethers etc, society would collapse.

Can you even begin to estimate the "wider social and economic benefits' of the fact that there are tens of millions of functioning alcoholics keeping society going?

Kj said...

Not being an alcoholic is one of those things people have to manage on their own and with friends and family, you know, "society". No amount of taxes, minimum pricing, retail restritions or what not-"public policy", really affects that equation.

Sackerson said...

... i.e. merits (hoorays) v. drawbacks (boos).

Mark Wadsworth said...

Kj, yes, "not being an alcoholic" requires support from family and friends.

Being an alcoholic is easy though, most people manage it by themselves without assistance.

S, that we was too subtle for me. Clearly, the advantages of boozing outweigh the disadvantages. Just look at Islamic countries and see what a mess they are in.

Kj said...

MW: true that, it´s good for solitary pursuits, authors etc., *and* a social lubricant as well. I´m sure birthrates up here in the cold would have plummeted without it.

Sackerson said...

Kj: you've opened up a new front: sobriety as a solution to human overpopulation.

Kj said...

Sack: either that or alcohol as a way of stop worrying about overpopulation. Drink-fuelled Europe solved that with inventing the western world; secular, rich and reasonably innovative. Uptil now anyway.

Sackerson said...

Beer kept us from being poisoned by bad water, England must have stunk like a brewery day and night.

fraggle said...

you've opened up a new front: sobriety as a solution to human overpopulation.

Someone needs to tell the Mormons...

Kj said...

Fraggle: touchê. Also other religions which happens to espouse sobriety. Sometimes the rule has so many exceptions as to make it invalid except for the exception. Our little rule is henceforth limited to northern europe...