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Local authorities to be boosted by government funding increase

The Department of Health and Social Care have announced that the government is to increase funding for local authorities across England, with a view to improving the outcomes in drug and alcohol addiction treatment and recovery.

The additional funding amounts to £421 million through to 2025, allowing treatment funding to increase by 40% between 2020/21 and 2024/25. Primarily, this will support the creation of over 50,000 high-quality places in drug and alcohol treatment.

The recruitment of additional staff to work with people affected by drug and alcohol issues, as well as supporting prison leavers into treatment and recovery services will enhance the treatment being provided by local authorities. An increased number of people are also set to benefit from residential rehabilitation and inpatient detoxification.

Steve Barclay, Health and Social Care Secretary, said:

“Drug misuse has a massive cost to society – more than 3,000 people died as a result of drug misuse in 2023.

“This investment in treatment and recovery services is crucial to provide people with high-quality support, with services such expanding access to life-saving overdose medicines and outreach to young people at risk of drug misuse already helping to reduce harm and improve recovery.

“This funding will help us build a much improved treatment and recovery service which will continue to save lives, improve the health and wellbeing of people across the country, and reduce pressure on the NHS by diverting people from addiction into recovery.”

Allocations of funding will be made to 151 local authorities around the country, with it being spread over the course of the next two years. This will be split by giving £154.3 million worth of support for 2023/24, and then £266.7 million for 2024/25, with the funding increase supporting the government’s 2021 drug strategy which aims to significantly increase the capacity of treatment and recovery services. The government are estimating that, over the course of the first three years of the strategy, the additional investment will prevent almost 1,000 deaths related to drug use, with this reversing the upward trend that was previously affecting the country.

Some of the work that the investment is supporting over the course of 2022-23 include:

  • Plans for Leeds to target needs from groups with the highest amount of social and economic depravation that were previously unmet, with this expanding treatment options and growing the support workforce by 85 full-time posts this year.
  • Lambeth’s plan to increase nursing workforce with the aim of easing existing pressure on the frontline of the substance misuse service. This will be supported by a nurse-led outreach prescribing service for residents that are in the Vulnerable Adults Pathway, as well as offering one-to-one support for offenders that have been referred via the HMPPS Chemsex and Crime Lead this year.
  • A plan in Portsmouth to develop peer-led outreach services that will engage with drug users that are hard-to-reach, a well as improving the criminal justice team to enable them to offer a seven day per week service at the custody suite. This would also support the provision for residential rehabilitation for people leaving the criminal justice system.
  • Nottinghamshire has identified almost 200 young adults that are living in hostels ad other move on accommodation and are unable to access structured drug and alcohol treatment. This funding allows them to be supported through an outreach post that will assist them into treatment and recovery. Investment in a long-acting medicine that treats opiate addiction is also set to increase the uptake of that medicine to around 40 people this year.

Treatment is to be available for a wide range of substances, including powder cocaine, ecstasy, prescription drugs and cannabis, with the funding being prioritised for the areas that need it the most. This need will be based on the rate of drug deaths, deprivation, opiate and crack cocaine prevalence and crime, as well as taking the size of treatment population into account.

This funding will benefit communities as they look to reduce the amount of drug-related crime and suffering, however the Local Government Association has said there is a need for clarity over this spending. Councillor David Fothergill, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, released the following statement today:

“This additional funding is important in helping to support councils to address drug and alcohol dependency and will make a real difference to transforming the lives of those who need it in our communities.

“Councils stand ready to work with the Government to make sure everyone gets the right treatment and support. For many problem users, their first experience of treatment is the catalyst for getting the help they need to address their physical and mental health problems.

“However, councils’ allocations for the local public health grant from April, which also goes to fund local addiction support service, has still yet to be announced leaving the future of many vital services in doubt.

“The Government should give these services long term certainty by urgently publishing the public health settlement which help councils plan for the future.”

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