Read the full report here.


This research, launched at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Harm on 1 May 2018, warns that the alcohol treatment sector is in crisis. These services are entering into a cycle of disinvestment, staff depletion, and reduced capacity, and this is due to get worse; in 2020 ring-fenced public health funding will end, posing additional risk to the areas of highest need.

The report highlights how severe funding cuts, rapid re-tendering cycles, loss of qualified staff and lack of political support are impacting on some of the most vulnerable people in society.

It is estimated that around 595,000 people in England alone are dependent on alcohol and in need of specialist support. But only around 108,000 are receiving treatment for their alcohol dependency. This has a significant impact not only on the individual but on their families; around 200,000 children live in a household with an alcohol-dependent carer.[i]

In the UK roughly one person dies every hour as a result of alcohol. Over the past forty years we have seen liver disease rates in the UK increase by around 250% - far outstripping liver disease rates seen across much of the developed world, which have reduced in recent years.[ii]

Public Health England estimates that every £1 invested in alcohol treatment brings a social return of £3.[iii]

Key findings from the report show:

  • Only 12% of respondents felt that resources were sufficient in their area;
  • Respondents reported cuts of between 10% and 58%, with one treatment provider saying local areas were ‘paring back to a skeleton service’;
  • 59% of respondents felt that aspects of services in their area had worsened in the last three years, with particular threats to community detox and residential rehabilitation facilities;
  • 62% of respondents said that in their area appropriate care is not available for people with both a mental health and an alcohol problem, with many told they must resolve their alcohol problems before they can access mental health services;
  • Only 7% described the quality of engagement between JobCentre Plus and local alcohol services as ‘good’.

To address the issue, the report sets out several key recommendations, including:

  1. The Government must develop and implement a National Alcohol Strategy, with treatment at the heart of a broader suite of interventions to reduce alcohol harm.
  2. The Government must urgently plug the gap in treatment funding and reduce health inequalities arising from local funding structures. The report contains recommendations for how this might work.
  3. There must be a national review of commissioning of alcohol services, and the balance of staffing in the alcohol field.

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