View more on these topics

The latest scapegoat for boozing Brits

High house prices have been blamed for many things – non-entry into the euro, declining birth rates, slowing social mobility – but apparently it’s also why young people are knocking back the Barcardi Breezers.

A BBC programme called Britain’s Streets of Booze – a title guaranteed to ensure Daily Mail readers will tune in to top up their apoplectic fury at the youth of today – says the debate about binge drinking has focussed on licensing hours and discounts but asks if house prices could be to blame.

The problem of binge drinking is not to be underestimated. It is thought that excessive alcohol intake costs the UK 20bn per year, hitting health, productivity (up to 17 million working days are lost annually through alcohol abuse) and violent crime rates.

But the government is on the wrong track in trying to tackle this with longer opening times, more CCTV cameras and culling happy hours, according to Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University Management School. He says such measures fail to address the root of the problem. The BBC programme shows Cooper spending an evening with drinkers in Manchester. Most revellers live with their parents or in rented accommodation.

“Many 20 and 30-somethings can’t afford to buy a house so they’re not doing what previous generations did which was start to save for their own homes at 25,” says Cooper. “Now there’s no point doing that so they have disposable money which they spend on instant gratification.”

Home owners are not as likely to spend as much on booze, says Cooper, because they have mortgages and other expenses. They are more inclined to socialise and drink at home.

But maybe it’s not so much that there’s no point in saving, rather that there is no longer the pressure for people to settle down in their 20s. Getting married and having children, usually a trigger for home ownership, is now a 30s trend.

Panic about drink is nothing new. Shakespeare’s Cassio bemoans his “poor and unhappy brains for drinking”. In the 18th century, Hogarth famously depicted Gin Lane, where “drunkenness of the common people was universal”. During World War I, Lloyd George told the country: “We are fighting three foes – Germany, Austria and drink – and drink is most deadly of all.” This was linked to concern over the scandalous behaviour of women drinkers, many of whom had pay packets for the first time from work in government factories, leading the government to impose the restrictions on pub opening times now being abolished.

For the record, binge drinking is defined as drinking more than double the recommended daily limits – eight units for men – equivalent to four pints of beer – and six units for women.rachelblackmoreis external affairsmanager at the Building Societies Association

Recommended

GMAC-CM appoints real estate vice president

GMAC Commercial Mortgage Europe has appointed Steve Machin as vice president of the UK real estate finance team, based in Norfolk House, St. James Square. Machin, who joins GMAC-CM Europe from RBS Structured Property Finance, will report to Kevin Cooper, managing director, UK Real Estate Finance. His appointment closely follows the recruitment by GMAC-CM Europe […]

Lending Strategy to be launched next year

Centaur Communications, publisher of Mortgage Strategy, is delighted to announce the appointment of John Murray as editor of a new publication for the lending industry. Lending Strategy is a monthly publication launching in the new year. Publisher Patrick Ponsford says: “It is vital with any launch to appoint an editor with credibility and respect in […]

PFS introduces affinity benefits package

The Personal Finance Society has introduced an affinity benefits package designed to provide enhanced access and exclusive discounts to a range of lifestyle and business services for its members.The initial package has links to over 20 companies providing a range of products and services from legal and IT support to car rental and professional indemnity […]

HIPs could increase risk says Fitch Ratings

Fitch Ratings warned today that government’s plans for the introduction of Home Information Packs could result in increased risk in the housing market for buyers and lenders, as well as investors in residential mortgage backed securities.The government’s long awaited plans to speed up the house buying process via HIPs and limit the number of failed […]

Sierra Leone cover image - thumbnail

White paper — Sierra Leone International Insights

Jelf Employee Benefits assesses the areas that employers should be aware of when considering operating in Sierra Leone, including healthcare access, delivery and insurance provisions. This report draws on various sources to highlight specific considerations for this emerging jewel in West Africa.

Newsletter

News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up