Lifestyle Economics

Misleading New Claims on the Societal Costs of Alcohol


Housing and Planning

Kristian Niemietz writes for The Spectator

Christopher Snowdon writes for ConservativeHome

IEA Head of Lifestyle Economics Christopher Snowdon has written for ConservativeHome criticising new research which claims that alcohol abuse costs England £27.4 billion per year.

Christopher wrote:

“[The Institute for Alcohol Studies’] estimate is £27.4bn – and this is being touted as a 40 per cent increase; the Guardian ran with ‘alcohol abuse costs soar to £27bn a year’ on its front page.

“But this ignores inflation. In real terms, the costs have fallen by around 25 per cent, and both the Cabinet Office estimate and the new estimate are gross overestimates.

“When I calculated the cost of alcohol misuse to the government in 2015, I arrived at a figure of £3.9bn. Updating my estimates with fresh data last week, it became clear that the total is still below £5 billion and is less than half of the amount the government rakes in from alcohol duty every year.

“When people hear that alcohol misuse costs society £27bn a year, most of them probably – and understandably – assume that this is a direct financial cost to them as taxpayers. They might also reasonably assume that it is a net figure, i.e. benefits minus costs.

“But it isn’t.”

Read Christopher’s full piece here.

You can also read Christopher’s 2015 paper Alcohol and the Public Purse: Do drinkers pay their way?.

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