Social Responsibility Levy proposed to raise funds for drug and alcohol treatment

Scottish Labour have announced plans for a Social Responsibility Levy to tackle problems related to alcohol and drug use, if they come to power after the next Scottish elections.

Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson, announced the Levy on the first day of the Scottish Labour conference in Dundee – stating that the tax on alcohol sales would raise more revenue to invest in tackling the impact of alcohol and drug use.

The power to introduce a Social Responsibility Levy at local authority level (which can apply to any licensed premises) was included in the Alcohol Scotland Act 2010, but the Scottish Government has never brought such a levy forward, instead introducing minimum unit pricing on alcohol.

Lennon continued: “Urgent change is needed. Overall life expectancy in Scotland has fallen for the first time in 35 years. How can it be right that the richest Scots can expect good health for twenty years longer than the poorest?

“And here in Dundee, Scotland’s drugs deaths crisis is at the highest rate in Europe. Drugs and alcohol misuse is ruining lives in every community. It is a Scottish public health emergency.”

According to CommonSpace, research from Scottish Labour found that a levy of 0.022 pounds per unit of alcohol of unit sold could raise over £100m a year.

A Scottish Government spokesperson responded to the call by stating: “We continue to have a deep-rooted and troubling relationship with alcohol and we must do all we can to prevent the harms of higher-risk drinking, as they are avoidable. That’s why we are taking measures to reduce the availability, attractiveness and affordability of alcohol, including minimum unit pricing and our plans for alcohol marketing restrictions.

“Our alcohol and drug strategy also focuses on improving how we provide support to those who need it and treat the wider issues affecting them. We are supporting this with an additional £20 million a year for alcohol and drug services and we have invested £746 million to tackle problem alcohol and drug use, with a focus on local prevention, treatment and recovery support services since 2008.”