Today sees the sees the parliamentary launch of a new policy report Families First from the Alcohol and Families Alliance (AFA), examining the impact alcohol has on families and children in the UK and the gaps in support, making policy recommendations for closing those gaps. Families First finds that while almost 200,000 children live with at least one alcohol-dependent adult, there is very patchy provision of support for families affected by alcohol, and that training is needed to help professionals identify parental drinking problems and show families where to get help.

The report found many barriers for those caring for a family member, or the child of a family member, with an alcohol use problem. Many of these carers suffer financial hardship due to their caring roles, and some – caring for another family member’s children – are not entitled to the same rights and benefits as other carers.

Alongside this, Families First raises concerns with alcohol’s position in wider society – particularly its increased availability in recent years – and how this works against families hoping to avoid harm. As a result, the AFA calls for action on the price of alcohol – such as minimum unit pricing which has been introduced in Scotland – and for the government to increase the Carer’s Allowance to ensure carers do not suffer financial hardship, and for carers looking after children in their own family to receive the same rights, support, and benefits as foster carers.

Hosted by the Rt Hon Caroline Flint MP and supported by the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Alcohol Harm and on Children of Alcoholics, the launch highlights the urgent need for action on alcohol harm affecting families in the UK, and with speakers including Health Minister Steve Brine and people with personal experience of alcohol problems, the event raises awareness of the urgent need for government to take prompt action in the upcoming alcohol strategy.