Alcohol costs Sunderland police, health services and business £120million a year

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ALCOHOL is costing Sunderland £120million every year, according to experts.

New figures show that booze is setting back the city’s workplace and wider economy £48million annually, while alcohol-related crime and its aftermath account almost £29million.

The city’s health service faces costs of almost £30million in treating the issue, while £9million is spent by social services regarding cases where alcohol is a factor.

Civic leaders today spoke of the huge “human cost” that alcohol abuse has on the general public, while campaigners once again called for the introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol which they think would bring the shock figures down.

Overall, the problem is landing each Wearside man, woman and child with a bill of £433 each.

Councillor Graeme Miller, portfolio holder for health at Sunderland City Council, said: “It’s not just the cost of alcohol to the economy and the workplace but to people and their families that I’m concerned about.

“It’s the second biggest cause of cancer in the over 35s after smoking, as well as being linked to domestic violence and under 18s being admitted to hospital with alcohol related conditions, so there is a tremendous human cost as well.”

Colin Shevills, director at North East alcohol office Balance, said: “We’ve seen a noticeable increase in the cost to the workplace and the wider economy, and this is in addition to the millions of pounds that continue to burden our health service, our police forces and our communities. Alcohol truly is affecting every aspect of our society. This can’t continue.

“Cheap alcohol that is too available and too heavily promoted is a fundamental factor in the damage we see and more needs to be done to reduce the alcohol harms that the region is forced to deal with on a daily basis.

“A minimum unit price will save thousands of lives, reduce hospital admissions, drastically cutting crime and save hundreds of thousands of working days lost through absenteeism.

“As the evidence base continues to grow, we need Government to put it back on the agenda to form part of a package of measures which will tackle alcohol on a national, regional and local level.”