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Report warns that recession may increase drug and alcohol use

Friday, August 14th, 2009 Report warns that recession may increase drug and alcohol use

As the recession and rising unemployment tightens its grip on the country, a leading public sector watchdog has warned that Britain faces a surge in drug and alcohol addiction.

According to the Audit Commission, which monitors the performance of local councils and services, councils are failing to prepare their communities as the recession takes its toll. The watchdog says there will be a huge increase in the number of social problems as the number of business failures, bankruptcies and level of unemployment continue to rise. This will put additional pressure on about a third of councils as they will have to facilitate the increased demand put on the social and mental health services provided and on state school places available as many parents are opting out of educating their children privately.

Recent figures show that overall unemployment levels have hit a 14-year high of 2.5 million. Young people make up over a million of this total, with 30 per cent of 16 and 17-year-old school-leavers currently unemployed.

The report claims that Britain is still in the initial phase of the recession, which is purely economic and refers to the falling level of output and subsequently a rise in the number of businesses collapsing. The watchdog claims that overall, local council’s response to the recession was “modest” as only a few have taken significant steps to help local businesses and vulnerable families. The report suggests that some councils have remained complacent; most notably those who have not been deeply effected by the economic downturn.

The watchdog warns that Britain is about to face the second or ‘social’ phase, where economic growth returns but long-term unemployment triggers a range of housing, health and domestic problems.

It says: “With families and individuals under stress, most areas are likely to witness increasing social problems including domestic violence, alcoholism, drug addiction and young people unable to find jobs. Councils may also have to deal with more fly-tipping, abandoned cars and stray dogs.”

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