Almost half of UK adults who have been made redundant or are in the process of redundancy are drinking more than they usually would have before the pandemic, a survey suggests.
Research from during the Covid-19 pandemic by the charity Drinkaware found that 49% of those going through job loss are drinking more, up from 38% since December and more than twice the national average of 20%.
The poll also suggests two-thirds of drinkers (66%) drinking at high-risk levels – more than 34 units of alcohol a week for women and more than 50 for men – are drinking more than they would have before the pandemic.
More than three in 10 high-risk drinkers (31%) report drinking “much more”, compared with 5% among all UK adults, Drinkaware said.
The charity, which has tracked drinking habits since the start of the first lockdown in March last year, is calling for alcohol harm to be recognised as a public health priority, with particular focus given to certain groups including those affected by redundancy and furlough.
Overall, it had seen an “increased polarisation” in drinking habits since December, with a higher proportion of UK adults reporting either drinking more (20% in April compared with 16% in December) or less (22% vs 19%) than they would have usually before the pandemic.
Some 10% of parents with under-18s reported drinking “much more”, compared to 9% in December, suggesting habits are becoming ingrained, while 33% of this group are drinking more than usual, up from 24% in December.
Drinkaware’s evidence and impact director Annabelle Bonus said: “Our survey shows that there are clear differences in the drinking habits across certain groups of the UK population, signalling a clear need for targeted action and appropriate support.
“It is concerning that the proportion of adults drinking more since the start of the pandemic has increased from December to April and we must ensure that people drinking more since lockdown began get the help and support that they need if we are to reverse this trend, preventing further harm being caused by alcohol.
“As well as the need for greater priority within public health strategies, employers have a crucial role to play in continuing to support those who struggled to balance work and family responsibilities in the pandemic. There is also a need for appropriate alcohol advice and support to be available to those out of work.”
Opinium surveyed 4,000 UK adults between April 27 and 30.