Alcohol Education and Research Council

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Abolition of AERC

On 26th of July 2011 the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced the abolition of the Alcohol Education and Research Council (AERC) as part of his review of Department of Health (DoH) 'arms length bodies'. The DoH review considered 18 'arms length bodies' and if their work was duplicated or could be undertaken more cost effectively elsewhere. [1] The AERC’s funding and role were transferred to Alcohol Research UK in March 2011 and the new body was launched in September 2011. [2]


Established in 1982 the Alcohol Education and Research Council is a Non-Departmental Public Body dedicated to research and education on issues related to alcohol. Members of the council come from a range of backgrounds primarily concerned with the treatment of alcohol related problems, although three of the fourteen council members are drawn from the alcohol industry. The Brewers Licensed Retailers Association (formerly the Brewer's Society), The Wine and Spirit Trade Association and The Scotch Whisky Association nominate representatives.

The history of the AERC is complex. In the 1890's the UK government, on the basis of statistics which upheld a link between the number of licensed premises within a particular area and instances of alcohol related disorder, decided to reduce the number of alcohol licenses issued over a seven year period. Local committees comprised of councillors and magistrates were enlisted in order to determine how many licences were needed to reduce any additional licensed premises. Licensees who lost their right to trade in alcohol would be compensated from a fund to an amount equal to the difference any loss of license would make to the proprietor. The compensation was sourced from a levy imposed on successful licensees. Although it was intended to take only seven years it was not until the 1974, almost eighty years on that the Erroll committee recommended ending the compensation scheme. At this stage the committees had a total of £3 million in the compensation fund. This was to be liquidated (this finally happened in 1997 and amounted to £3118,599) and a decision on what to do with the money was taken by the Secretary of State after consultation with the alcohol industry. Several years of negotiation followed between the Home Office and the (then) Brewer’s Society before agreement was reached.

The decision on what to do with the money was finally settled in 1980, half of the funds would be used for alcohol education and research, a quarter was given to a trust for licensed trade charities, and the final quarter was given to those who had a stake in the properties which had contributed to the original fund.

The fund is managed by Baillie Gifford of Edinburgh, and the council claims to have invested wisely and is grateful to the financial expertise of the drinks industry members. The value of the fund is now £10 million and it is estimated to generate an annual income of £500,000. The responsibility for monitoring the fund is vested in the Council's Finance and General Purposes Committee. [3]


AERC Membership

  • the chairman Doctor Noel Olsen, FRCP, FFPHM Public Health Consultant

the members

  • Professor Virginia Berridge Centre for History in Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Ms Joyce Craig Senior Health Economist, NHS Quality Improvement Scotland
  • Professor Christopher Day Head of School of Clinical Medical Studies, University of Newcastle
  • Ms. Rhoda Emlyn-Jones Principle Social Services Officer, Substance Misuse, Cardiff and The Vale of Glamorgan
  • Mr Ian Ford Company Secretary, North British Distillery Co Ltd
  • Professor David Foxcroft Oxford Brookes
  • Professor Ian Gilmore President, Royal College of Physicians
  • Professor Gerard Hastings Professor of Social Marketing, Director of Centre for Social Marketing
  • Professor Richard Hobbs Professor of Sociology, University of Durham
  • Professor Eileen Kaner Chair of Public Health Research, Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University Medical School
  • Mrs Lesley King-Lewis Chief Executive, Action on Addiction
  • Dr Pui-Ling Li Director of Public Health/Medical Director for Waltham Forest Primary Healthcare Trust
  • Mr Drew Munro General Manager, Beam Global Distribution (UK) Ltd

officers of the council

  • Professor Ray Hodgson Director
  • Mrs. Andrea Tilouche Committees and Grants Manager[4]


  1. Department of Health 26th July 2010 Review of arm’s length bodies to cut bureaucracy accessed 3rd October 2011
  2. Alcohol Research UK Who We ARE accessed 3rd October 2011
  3. Alcohol Education and Research Council Web Site Origins of AERC
  4. AERC The Members, accessed 20 December 2007