Alcohol Dependency

Health and Social Care – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th July 2018.

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Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng Conservative, Spelthorne 12:00 am, 24th July 2018

What plans the Government have to improve support for the children of alcohol-dependent parents.

Photo of Steve Brine Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Alcohol addiction has a devastating impact on individuals and their families, and it is unacceptable that children bear the brunt of their parents’ condition. That is why we are investing £6 million over three years to support vulnerable children living with alcohol-dependent parents. I pay tribute to the former Secretary of State and to the shadow Secretary of State for their leadership in making this happen.

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng Conservative, Spelthorne

I thank the Minister for his answer, but this is obviously a much wider problem, affecting more than just the children of alcohol-dependent parents. Will he tell the House what more can be done to ensure that people in the wider community can access that kind of help?

Photo of Steve Brine Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

We are working on an alcohol strategy, which is being led by the Home Office, and I have spoken to a number of stakeholders in the last two weeks at the various roundtables I have been holding. On the question of alcohol-dependent parents with children, we are working through local authorities, which is important, but as part of the investment that I have mentioned, there is also £500,000 going into expanding the helpline provision for children who find themselves in this position. I have heard time and again when talking to children affected by this that being able to say that they are not alone in this is often a great place to start. The helpline will be very important in that regard.

Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Labour, Don Valley

I welcome the comments made by the Public Health Minister today. I also welcome how open he has been to cross-party lobbying on this issue, including from my hon. Friend Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow Secretary of State. The £6 million is welcome news. Just to put it in perspective, more than 4,000 children phone Childline each year about alcohol use—it is the biggest concern that children have about their parents when they ring that service. We have something in Doncaster called the Family MOT—Moving On Together—and I hope the Minister will take the opportunity to see some of the good practice that is going on around the country. Will he tell us more about how that £6 million is likely to be spread around the country?

Photo of Steve Brine Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

I probably cannot do all of that without trying Mr Speaker’s patience, but I should like to thank the right hon. Lady, who is one of my predecessors, for the work that she does through the all-party parliamentary group on children of alcoholics, and with the charity Adfam. Charities and other third sector organisations will play a key part in putting in bids to work with local authorities, as part of the £6 million. Public Health England is leading on that, and I look forward to having ongoing discussions with her and with other Members who I know have a deeply held personal interest in this matter.