UK Government ‘allowing’ booze to kill - MP

Christine Humphreys
by Christine Humphreys
Published: May 07, 2024
Drinking beer
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Dan Carden MP
A WESTMINSTER MP has damned the UK government for ‘ignoring’ solutions to a public health crisis and ‘allowing’ booze to kill more people every year.
He is calling on his party to prioritise prevention in tackling Britain’s alcohol addiction if they win power.
Labour MP Dan Carden condemned the Conservative Government for ‘allowing’ a 32.8 per cent rise in deaths from alcohol between 2019 and 2022 by ‘ignoring’ prevention policies.
He wants opposition leader Kier Starmer to resist pressure from booze barons and put public health first if he gets into Number 10 at the forthcoming General Election.
The Liverpool Walton MP says Labour has ‘an exciting opportunity to demonstrate the crucial importance of prevention policies’ if the party gets into government.

A choice between supporting "people" or the "alcohol industry"

Mr Carden wants the next government to make the right political choice between ‘either supporting the health of our people or supporting a multinational alcohol industry’.
He praised the minimum unit price policy (MUP) introduced in Scotland and Wales and called for UK-wide action mooted in 2012 to be implemented.
Writing in the Westminster parliament publication The House, Mr Carden, who has spoken openly of his own addiction to drink, warned alcohol is driving a public health crisis.
He said: “Recent figures show a 32.8 per cent rise in deaths from alcohol-specific causes from 2019 to 2022 across the United Kingdom. However, if you were to judge the level of crisis by what the government is doing to prevent it, you’d be forgiven for thinking that nothing was wrong.
“Month after month, year after year, I have witnessed government inertia simply allowing this to happen.
“Alcohol is the leading risk factor for ill health and death among those aged 15 to 49. You would think that we do not have the knowledge or capability to tackle this problem, yet we know exactly what to do to reduce alcohol consumption and harm. Prevention policies are simply being ignored.
“Decades of research have found that there are three powerful ways that governments can reduce alcohol harm: reduce how affordable, available, and appealing alcohol is. However, the government is doing precisely the opposite.”

Calls for change to alcohol duty freeze

Mr Carden criticised the budget freeze on alcohol duties over the last decade which he suggests has fuelled the growth in dangerous drinking behind closed doors since the pandemic.
“The Chancellor has frozen alcohol duties once again, meaning duty has been frozen at almost every Budget in the last decade. Making alcohol more or less affordable is a political decision between either supporting the health of our people or supporting a multinational alcohol industry,” he said.
“Yet the Chancellor makes the decision under the pretence of helping pubs. He knows full well that it does not help pubs; it helps supermarkets maintain lower prices on alcohol, driving people to drinking at home. This comes back full circle to reinforcing drinking patterns that people developed during the pandemic. ”
Mr Carden wants to see a revival of policies recommended in the UK alcohol strategy in 2012 but never implemented in England including MUP, calorie labelling, bans on multi-buy promotions, and health as a licensing objective.
While he acknowledged that deaths from alcohol have risen in Scotland by 9% since introducing MUP, he points out that rates in England have spiralled by 36%.
“Twelve years on, none of these policies have been introduced in England. Scotland decided to take many of these policies forward as a devolved government and the results have been laudable.
“Deaths from alcohol in Scotland have increased, but at a much slower rate than those in England, with MUP being the key mitigating factor. Every single English region has seen a higher increase in its alcohol death rate than Scotland during the period.
“If Labour succeeds in forming a government, we have an exciting opportunity to demonstrate the crucial importance of prevention policies. ”

Economic and moral incentives for change

He believes there is a clear economic incentive to preventing premature deaths and a moral obligation to create and sustain an environment that allows people to live healthier lives.
“A positive and evidence-based approach will help bolster Labour’s fiscal prudence by supporting long-term productivity and reducing the exorbitant cost that alcohol places on our NHS, emergency services, and criminal justice system,” he said.
“But ultimately, and more importantly, it will save the lives of thousands of people across the UK, preventing people losing their loved ones far before their time.”
Christine Humphreys

About The Author

Christine Humphreys
Chris Humphreys is the co-founder of The Alcohol-Free Shop and She was a journalist for more years than she cares to remember. Ex-wife of an alcoholic, enthusiastic amateur musician and a passionate dog lover.