More than a third (35 per cent) of drug and alcohol services reported a decrease in funding last year, according to a new report from DrugScope, compared to just a fifth that reported an increase. More than half also reported large increases in caseloads.
The funding picture is ‘mixed and complex’, says State of the sector 2013 – which is published on behalf of the Recovery Partnership – although there are so far ‘no clear signs’ of widespread disinvestment. The potential impact of frequent recommissioning and retendering was also a concern, however, in terms of staff morale and disruption to service provision, while public health restructuring and changes to criminal justice commissioning have also had a ‘significant impact’. Some services reported a lack of engagement with police and crime commissioners and health and wellbeing boards, although others said relationships had now been established.
Almost 170 services from across the country were surveyed for the report, with many respondents highlighting ‘significant’ problems in offering support around housing, employment and mental and physical wellbeing. Almost half, meanwhile, said they were employing fewer frontline staff and six out of ten reported an increase in the use of volunteers.
‘Public service delivery of all kinds has undergone a period of significant transformation in recent years,’ said DrugScope chief executive Marcus Roberts. ‘It’s clear that organisations delivering drug and alcohol treatment are facing challenges, not only related to funding, but also to engagement with the new structures shaping service delivery on the ground. There is a concern about securing access to some of the vital resources that support recovery, including housing and employment.
‘However, responding to the challenges, it is heartening to hear that the agencies which took part in the research are adapting and innovating in the new environment,’ he continued. ‘The priority is to keep providing support to those who need it – and many agencies are developing new partnerships with and beyond the sector to ensure they support the ambitions and aims of people in recovery.’
Report at www.drugscope.org.uk