A PROJECT warning primary children about the dangers of alcohol has been declared a waste of tax payers money by a campaign group.

The Taxpayers Alliance has singled out the £158,000 Healthier Inverclyde programme for criticism.

But local health and social care bosses slammed the ‘incredible’ claims and argued that educating primary aged children about the misuse of alcohol was a major priority in their fight to cut deaths and improve local lives.

In a report, the Taxpayers Alliance questioned whether there is any way of  measuring the impact of government health interventions on this scale.

In the document they said: “This research calls into question the rationale for expensive government interventions. Public health officials and campaigners will argue that such interventions can save taxpayers’ money in the longer term, and reduce the ‘societal cost’ of such apparent behavioural ills.  

“Yet societal costs of alcohol, smoking and obesity can be defined very broadly. Savings to taxpayers are often lazily lumped together with other things, such as being a nuisance drunk.”

The UK-wide research, carried out for the alliance, says that Greater Glasgow and Clyde spent more than any other board on four public health interventions – to the tune of  £3.8 million.

Within this there was a £158,000 spend on Healthier Inverclyde to deliver education and public awareness sessions to primary school children.

Inverclyde has some of the poorest health outcomes in the country with one of the lowest life expectancy, high levels of smoking, drug and alcohol-related deaths.

There are also high levels of ‘social inequality’ within the local authority area.

An Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) spokesman said: “It is an incredible position for the taxpayers alliance to take that it is a bad thing to encourage young people to make good choices when it comes to alcohol.  

“The misuse of alcohol is a major health issue. It contributes to poverty and there are still too many alcohol-related deaths.  

“Continued and long-term ill health through smoking, drugs and alcohol misuse also have a financial impact on society including cost to health services.

"Projects like Healthier Inverclyde aim to make a real contribution to our community. 

“They aim to encourage good choices, to make an impact on the root causes of ill health and, ultimately, to reduce health spending on preventable conditions.”