A new bid is being made to tackle alcohol misuse in South Tyneside – an issue costing the local economy more than £57 million every year.
In recent years, health bosses, council leaders and Northumbria Police have worked to tackle public health issues around alcohol in the borough.
Following public consultation, the council have published a new strategy - called ‘Getting the Measure Right’ - which aims to “create a culture where people drink less alcohol”.
Plans include awareness schemes around alcohol-free pregnancies and childhood, promoting responsible drinks sales and reducing the availability of cheap alcohol.
The figures come with a report, due to be presented to South Tyneside’s full council on Thursday, which reveals the spiralling costs of alcohol to employers and the public purse.
In South Tyneside, absenteeism and lost productivity costs businesses and local employers £19 million per year while the cost of tackling crime and disorder is nearly £17million.
The total annual cost to the local economy, including health care bills, stretches to £57.4 million.
Currently, 32,000 people in South Tyneside are sais to have “multiple unhealthy behaviours” - including smoking, poor diet, excess alcohol and lack of exercise, a report states.
The report adds: “Without an up-to date and fit-for-purpose strategy, there is a risk that there will not be the strong links and consistent messages required between the local, regional and national alcohol harm reduction agendas.”
The alcohol strategy is one of seven plans listed in the Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy (2017-2021) and was approved by the council’s Joint Health and Wellbeing Board earlier this year.
Although the plan was launched during Alcohol Concern’s ‘Alcohol Awareness Week’ (November 19 -25), it needs final backing from South Tyneside councillors.
If approved, it will include a mixture of campaigns, signposting to services and targeted support to those in need, including wider family units and others who may not be directly affected by alcohol issues.
The report adds: “One of the key priorities within the Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy is to empower communities to value and desire good health.
“We need to encourage people who are not yet motivated to opt into services.
“This requires challenging the wider acceptance of certain risky behaviours in certain communities and shaping services to recognise the need to improve engagement and motivation of service users, which the strategy aims to achieve.”
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service