We welcome today’s announcement of £267 million for drug and alcohol treatment in 2024/5.
We welcome the timing of this announcement and hope it will give drug and alcohol services more time to plan and prepare provision with local authorities that can start in April 24.
However, we are disappointed by proposals that up to 10% of funding for some services could be clawed back based on a narrow range of performance indicators. This fails to take account of the complex challenges facing these areas, many of which have high levels of deprivation and poverty, and it ignores the time that it takes to turn around services after decades of under-investment, which was acknowledged in both the 10-year national drug strategy and the National Audit Office report in October 2023 (Reducing the Harm from Drugs).
Our experience tells us that the threatened claw-back of funding is likely to lead to perverse outcomes, including under-spend in these areas, and a greater pressure to move people through the treatment system, regardless of whether that will produce positive outcomes or not.
The move also risks new developments, undermines diversity of provision and service innovation, because these organisations cannot take the risk of relying on funding that could be withdrawn in a year.