Hello members and friends
On the drive home on Friday I was listening to the debate on the radio about the implementation of the minimum price for a Unit of alcohol. Whilst there was a Conservative MP who complained that this was gesture politics and an attack on those who were sensible drinkers, the majority seemed to believe that action to address the availability of very cheap alcohol might have an impact on binge drinking and what was described by a representative of the Police Federation, as the carnage on our town and city streets on a Friday and Saturday night.
Certainly that has been a lot in the media about the cost to public services of managing the consequences of heavy drinking mainly by younger people on our streets, in terms of policing and NHS casualty units (and probably others). I always try and step back and ensure I am not just becoming a grumpy, middle-aged man, complaining “it was not like that in my day”. However, if this measure has the effect of reducing drinking, limiting anti-social behaviour, freeing up the time of hard-pressed NHS staff and preventing serious health problems for those who engage in binge-drinking, then it must be a good thing.
Later that same evening, as I indulged in a half of shandy at my local, I did muse about the extent to which the current squeeze on spending is having an effect on our ability to sustain in many other areas those services that will prevent significant spend within our statutory services further down the line. Unfortunately youth services, services to families and anti-social behaviour units, which all seek to tackle the fundamental problems of communities and those that live in them, are being cut back and the result is that pressure on statutory services will grow in the future.
Perhaps this would seem less like a gesture, if it were genuinely felt that the government recognised the value of sustaining preventative services; if they addressed the causes of anti-social behaviour, ill health and the like, they would reduce the pressure on and the cost of services that merely deal with the consequences.