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Drugs and sex spend tops beer and wine

The UK spent more on illicit substances and prostitution last year than it did on wine or beer according to the first set of official findings released today by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

At just under £11bn for wine and beer, sales of both in the UK throughout 2013 were topped by the £12.3bn spent on drugs and paid sex, based on ONS data.

Speaking to the Telegraph, David Matthewson, a statistician at the ONS, said: “For a long time we have made adjustments to our calculations to account for smuggling, and some of that would have included alcohol and other substances.”

“But smuggling, of course, is not as commonplace as it once was,” said Matthewson.

“This was the first time we have allowed spending on narcotic drugs and prostitution into our calculations for the economy,” he said.

As for how the data was collected, Matthewson explained: “As might be expected, data on this sort of activity is not exactly forthcoming, so we used a number of previous studies which looked at different elements of the equation, from the number of prostitutes in the UK to price at which drugs are bought.”

The findings have been released as a result of new EU standards and guidelines aimed at improving methods for measuring Gross National Income which have resulted in two new classifications, prostitution and narcotics, being included in household spending.

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