The neo-temperance movement wants to turn January into a secular Lent for hypochondriacs. Now, if you want to stop drinking for a month, that's up to you, but I strongly object to having my tax money spent on the Dry January project, particularly since Cancer Research UK runs an identical campaign without state-funding (the 'Dryathalon').
And I object further when the government uses my money to pay for the fund-raising activities of the soon-to-be-defunct pressure group Alcohol Concern.
When Dry January was set up by Alcohol Concern in 2013, it was moderately successful and raised £38,000. Public Health England has since decided to throw our hard-earned money at it, giving Alcohol Concern £500,000 to spend on the 2015 event and £1,000,000 for last year.
What has been the return on this 'investment'? Alcohol Concern are a little cagey about it, but their Justgiving page suggests that donations haven't risen since the first Dry January was launched on a shoestring. Last year's effort brought in just £33,000.
Given the million pound investment, this is a net loss of £967,000. Dig deep, taxpayers!
The source of the £1 million figure is this article from December 2015. Public Health England's accounts for January 2015 suggest that £1 million is in the right ballpark.
Here's PHE's expenditure on Dry January in that month, excluding payments below £25,000. As you can see, the advertising industry did nicely out of it:
£211,946.14 - M4C Group: Press advertising
£32,251.20 - M & C Saatchi: Employer Toolkit Creative
£31,230 - M & C Saatchi: Radio advertising
£108,835.20 - M & C Saatchi: Fees and launch story development, including case study recruitment
£41,467.62 - Williams Lea Ltd.: Employers pack production
£47,927.38 - M4C Group: Radio advertising
£71,905.48 - M4C Group: Radio advertising
£47,949.62 - M4C Group: Radio advertising
£90,331.20 - M & C Saatchi:Above the line creative development
£40,200 - NHS Confederation: 'provision of services for NHS staff to participate in Dry January'
£52,660.20 - OgilvyOne: 'Behavioural Strategy and Registration Page Development'
That's £776,704 right there.