The areas of Merseyside that have seen the largest cut in their spending on alcohol problems have been revealed.

Newly compiled figures show how funding for alcohol treatment is being stripped away from public health budgets, while hospital admissions for alcohol-related problems are soaring.

In Liverpool, the council spent £2.1m less in the last financial year on alcohol treatment than five years ago, while other authorities have also seen lesser cuts.

At the same time as funding for treatment is cut, the toll alcohol is having on the health of people in the city is worsening.

NHS figures reveal there were 236 deaths specifically caused by booze between 2015 and 2017 - the latest period with figures available.

That was up from 228 such deaths between 2013 and 2015.

 

Only Halton and Knowsley councils increased their spending on alcohol treatment for its residents over the past five years.

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said reductions to councils' public health grant from central government had caused restrictions on who is targeted for alcohol treatment.

Alcoholic drinks on sale in a shop

Councillor Hudspeth said: “Latest studies show four out of five adults dependent on alcohol are not getting into treatment – clearly more work needs to be done to investigate the reasons for this, but we need to fund these services appropriately.

“The causes of alcohol misuse and the solutions for tackling it are multi-factorial.

“It requires close working with partners, imagination and hard work.

 

“When we get it right it can have a tremendous impact, vulnerable people are being given another chance to find work, rebuild relationships, improve their health and secure safe accommodation.

“To help avoid compounding acute pressures for criminal justice and NHS services further down the line, more money needs to be invested in cost-effective prevention work.”

Nick covers local government and politics for the ECHO, focusing on Liverpool and Knowsley.

Here are more of his stories, and here is all of the ECHO's politics coverage.

Email him on [email protected]

Keep up to date with the latest breaking news here

 

Nationally, councils across England spent £190.4 million on schemes to tackle alcohol misuse in 2013/14.

But the data reveals councils spent just £170.5 million in 2018/19.

 

This is despite alcohol misuse costing the NHS an estimated £3.5 billion per year and society as a whole £21 billion annually.

New data published this month reveal that 9,555 adults in Liverpool were classed as being alcohol dependent in 2017/18.

Halton has the 26th highest rate in England of drinkers ending up in hospital because of booze. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Public health budgets for alcohol treatment have dropped in many areas. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said the new findings highlighted the burden alcohol places on the NHS.

Professor Gilmore said: “Alcohol is linked to over 200 different kinds of disease and injury and every year, one million hospital admissions are related to alcohol and yet the government is still failing to take alcohol harm seriously.

 

“Current government policy allows alcohol to be sold at pocket money prices whilst offering little support to those affected by alcohol misuse.”

A spokesperson from The Department for Health and Social Care said: “While most people drink in moderation, some are unaware of the dangers of regularly consuming alcohol.

Read More

Top news stories

“The UK Chief Medical Officers have issued low risk drinking guidelines to help the public make healthier choices, with clear advice about alcohol-related health risks.

“As part of our Long Term Plan for the NHS, alcohol care teams will be introduced in hospitals with the highest number of alcohol-related admissions and we expect this to prevent 50,000 admissions from alcohol related harm over five years.”