On Friday (16 August 2019), Stephen Kerr MP visited a popular recovery café held by the Forth Valley Recovery Community, a group organised by the Addictions Support & Counselling (Forth Valley). He heard about recent successes and challenges from a community that’s tackling addiction. The visit was arranged by the Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA), Alcohol Focus Scotland (AFS), and the Forth Valley Recovery Community (FVRC).
Joining the FVRC in their café Stephen was able to see the community in action, and learn more about their other activities. He learned about the lack of informative labelling on alcohol products and the widespread nature of alcohol marketing. Stephen heard how people had recovered from substance misuse problems, and how they were now taking a leading role in helping others to do the same.
Alcohol costs NHS Scotland £268 million every year, and services are under considerable pressure having faced substantial funding cuts in previous years. That’s even though treatment is very cost-effective: for every £1 spent on alcohol treatment yields £3 of value. The Scottish Government has recently announced additional funding for drugs and alcohol services, which might go some way to correcting the previous cuts.
Extra money to fund these services could, for example, also be raised through alcohol duty. In recent years, alcohol duty has been cut or frozen to support the alcohol industry. This is costing the Treasury over £1 billion annually in lost revenue. The AHA is calling for a 2% increase in alcohol duty to invest in public health and prevention services, in addition to a new Alcohol Strategy to tackle the root causes of addiction.
Speaking after the visit, Stephen Kerr MP said:
“It was a wonderful and extremely informative visit to the Forth Valley Recovery Community café. It was inspiring to see the great work being done by everyone in this community. The leading role taken by those who have themselves faced the challenge of addiction is crucial to ensure effective support is delivered appropriately.”
Paul Mooney, CEO Addictions Support & Counselling (ASC) – Forth Valley
“It was great to have the opportunity to show Stephen the fantastic work of the Forth Valley Recovery Community. Recovery is possible for everyone, and, as Stephen saw, it is flourishing in Stirling. However, funding must be restored to alcohol and drugs partnerships so we can continue the work that we do. We fully support the Alcohol Health Alliance’s campaign for alcohol duty increases as a way to raise additional revenue. We have asked Stephen to speak up for our community in Parliament to ensure that we can continue promoting recovery in Forth Valley.”
Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, commented:
“Ten people die each day from an alcohol-related cause in Scotland alone. The introduction of minimum unit pricing in Scotland has been a positive step. We now need to ensure that there is sufficient funding for services like the Forth Valley Recovery Community, so they can continue their essential work to help people turn around their lives and build strong communities.”