Effects of alcohol in South Ayrshire have £40m price tag

ALCOHOL-related harm in South Ayrshire costs more than £40million a year according to the latest figures from awareness charity Alcohol Focus Scotland.

South Ayrshire paid out £41.8 million on alcohol-related healthcare, social care and crime in 2010-11, while drink-related harm cost Scotland just over £2billion.

The first regional statistics published by charity Alcohol Focus Scotland since it was established under its current name in 2001 indicate the cost of alcohol harm per person in South Ayrshire was higher than 17 of Scotland’s 32 council areas at £375.

While this figure was £21 cheaper than the Scottish average - and lower than both North and East Ayrshire at £58.6m and £47.6m respectively - the health service and social care cost of alcohol harm in the area was higher than the average national figure.

South Ayrshire was one of only 10 local authority areas with a health service cost - including hospital admissions, ambulance journeys and alcohol services - higher than that of Scotland as a whole.

The region paid the equivalent of £58 per head of its population compared to £50, while the equivalent cost of social care - including services such as home care and community and probation orders relating to alcohol - was £1 more expensive in South Ayrshire than the Scottish average of £52.

Overall the area ranked 18th of Scotland’s 32 council areas, with the country’s main cities topping the chart in terms of cost and Glasgow maxing out at £364.8m.

Carrick MSP Adam Ingram described the cost to Scotland’s coffers as totally unsustainable.

“This is a very serious problem for our nation and our communities,” he said. “We need to be alive to the scale of the threat and act now to modify our perceptions of what is, and what is no longer, acceptable in our relationships with alcohol.”