Scottish Government announces £25 million to reduce alcohol misuse
The Scottish government has set a precedent this week in announcing £25 million for alcohol screening, prevention and treatment for the year 2008/2009. This is a doubling of the previous financial year’s spend of £10.13 million and marks a significant commitment to spend £85 million over the next three years.
Visiting a screening and interventions nurse programme based in Kilmarnock yesterday, Shona Robinson, the Minister for Public Health said:
“"The record funding I am announcing today demonstrates the Scottish Government's clear commitment to address Scotland's complex relationship with alcohol.
"Far too many Scots are drinking above the recommended amounts on a regular basis - often without realising that they are doing so, and without understanding the impact it is having on their health.
"But Scottish Government action does not stop there. We are currently developing a long term strategic approach to tackling alcohol misuse. We plan to publish our proposals for action before the summer."
This may put pressure on the Department of Health, who so far have made no further commitments to increase spend on alcohol treatment and interventions since it announced an extra £15 million through the Choosing Health agenda. However it is reported that many PCTs did not direct the allocation to delivering or improving alcohol services as the money had not been ring fenced. An Alcohol Concern report is expected this year to show how much PCTs are spending on alcohol.
Licensing Act review followed by further measures to address alcohol related disorder
This month the Department for Culture, Media and Sport released the ‘Evaluation of the Impact of the Licensing Act 2003’ after committing to monitoring the impact of the new framework for licensing across the country.
The review’s key findings claim that there have been nosignificant changes in alcohol related disorder despite many fearing large rises in 24 hour drinking establishments. Whilst admitting it may be too early to make real conclusions on the impact, it appears there have been no overall increases in alcohol related crime and disorder and no significant rise in the number of 24 hour licenses being used. However findings shows that previous peak times for incidents have been reduced but with a displacement of more incidents later into the early morning hours.
The report does claim that a number of positive issues have emerged and that the change in structures transferring licensing responsibilities from magistrates to licensing authorities has improved democratic accountability and the involvement of residents and stakeholders. Reports of significant cost savings (around £99m a year) to license holders and businesses are highlighted as well as no negative impacts being registered in relation to the regulation of live music performances.
None the less the report acknowledges that there may be varying degrees to which licensing authorities are using the new powers, with many still failing to address serious issues relating to problematic premises. Additionally it is reported there is no indication ofdiversifying in the use of late night drinking hot spots which is sought to achieve a change in the current drinking culture. The report also highlights that improvements need to be made where authroities are not taking sufficent action aginst premises and further consideraton needs to be given to further simplifying certain processes for licensing authorities.
However the review emphasises the root and branch approach that the government is taking towards alcohol harm across all sections of society. The Licensing act of 2003 is implemented to support the cross-cutting national alcohol strategy updated in 2007 in ‘Safe. Sensible. Social’ and highlights a number of new inititives being taken to reduce the impact of alcohol in the Night Time Economy. These include the new Beacon Council scheme ‘After Dark’ which will support and reward innovative approaches to managing town centres being delivered by local authorities.
In taking forward the priorities outlined in the review the Home Office will bring forward new legislation to further address alcohol related disorder. The new measures include a sharper ‘yellow card and red card’ system for problem premisesand an increase in the fine for breaching public drinking control orders from £500 to £2,500. These come alongside new ‘Alcohol Disorder Zones’ which under the Violent Crime Act 20006 give councils increased powers to restrict the number of licenses in alcohol disorder ‘hotspots’ and force premises responsible for disorder to contribute to costs incurred to the police or council.
For a full copy of the review go to
New council Beacon scheme to recognise good practive in the Night Time Economy