The Board received a report of the Chief Executive and Director of Public Health, which provided an update on the work to tackle the harm caused by alcohol in communities; and sought Board support to participate with other similarly minded authorities across the North to build support amongst the public and politicians for the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP).
It was noted that alcohol was one of the biggest public health challenges faced by Halton with rising levels of harm linked to increases in consumption over the past few decades. Halton suffered disproportionate harm when compared to the rest of the country, with estimated costs to the NHS alone of over £10million each year. 27% of the adult population in Halton were estimated to be drinking at increasing and higher risk levels. There were 2,152 hospital admissions caused by alcohol each year, with 32 adults dying as a result of alcohol consumption. Estimates suggested that in Halton 6,839 crimes, including thefts, criminal damage and violence were caused by alcohol each year.
Members were advised that research from Sheffield University indicated that Halton would see significant benefits from the introduction of a 50p MUP in England:
• The NHS locally would save £256,200 per year;
• Alcohol related hospital admissions would fall by 130 per year;
• 65 deaths would be avoided over the ensuing 20-year period; and
• 196 fewer associated crimes would be committed per year.
Given the disproportionate levels of harm experienced across the North of England, the view expressed at Stakeholder meetings showcasing the research, held in Warrington and Durham late in 2018, was that the North West and North East should work together to influence national MUP discussions. As a working group, the aim was to facilitate and encourage willing participant local authorities to work together to influence the national debate on MUP.
In light of the harms caused in Halton by the widespread availability of cheap alcohol and the improvements in alcohol related health and crime promised by the above research, work was now underway to start the process of building public and political support for MUP and to seek to engage with politicians and Parliament. The Board was asked to support the call to urge the Government in Westminster to introduce MUP in England without delay.
In addition, the Board was asked to support, should the Government be unwilling to introduce MUP, joining a group of North West and North East Councils to take local action on this issue. Such an approach would enable consultation with local people on making a bid to introduce MUP at a regional/sub-regional/local level by making a bid using the Sustainable Communities Act.
Arising from the discussion, Cheshire Fire would provide information on the number of fire alcohol related deaths.
1. the report be noted; and
2. the Board supports the decision for Halton to participate with other similarly minded authorities across the North to build support amongst the public and politicians for the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP).