Duty to Recover: taking action to reduce alcohol harm

Posted on: 7th February 2021

As part of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, the British Liver Trust is supporting the Duty To Recover campaign for a fairer alcohol tax system that reflects the true cost of alcohol to society. The charity has written to the government asking them to increase alcohol duty by 2%.

Why it matters

Although there are many different causes of liver disease, alcohol consumption is the leading cause of death from liver disease in the UK. Sadly, around 7,700 people die from alcohol-related liver disease in the UK each year.[i]

Vanessa Hebditch, Director of Policy and Communications at the British Liver Trust, says: “Every day we hear from patients and their loved ones about the devastating impact of alcohol-related liver disease. The human cost of excessive alcohol consumption is heart-breaking, but alcohol also puts a huge burden on our public health services, costing NHS £3.5bn every year and £7.3bn in lost productivity. [ii]

“The relationship between alcohol price and the amount people drink is well established. Alcohol in the UK is 74% more affordable today than it was in 1987. We urgently need an alcohol duty system that covers the costs of alcohol's harm to the NHS and our other public services.”

Why now?

In the Budget on 3rd March 2021, the government has the opportunity to save lives and reduce alcohol harm.

Doing this has never been more urgent: deaths caused by alcohol have hit a new record high in England and Wales. Across the UK, approximately 80 people die every day from alcohol.

Before the pandemic, one in five people in the UK drank in a way that could harm their liver. But between February and September last year, high-risk drinking increased by almost 90% [iii]. This doesn’t only harm the people who drink, but also those around them. Children have spoken about how their parent’s drinking can make them feel terrified, upset and helpless.

Increasing alcohol tax is one of the most effective ways to reduce alcohol harm and save lives. This is why we’re asking the government to increase alcohol duty by 2% in the Budget to reflect the true cost of alcohol to society and help our country recover from Covid-19.

How you can help

If you’d like to support the campaign, you can email your MP using our draft email or add a personal message to make it more powerful. If you care about alcohol harm, or have personal or professional experience, your MP needs to hear from you.

If you’d like to know more about the effects of alcohol on the liver and how to look after your liver health, visit Looking after your liver - British Liver Trust


[i] Statistics - British Liver Trust

[ii] Statistics - British Liver Trust

[iii] Alcohol duty reform - Alcohol Health Alliance (ahauk.org)