Fifty of England’s most deprived areas are to receive ‘significantly more’ funding in 2022-23 to bolster their drug and alcohol treatment services, says the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
While all local authorities will receive additional funding as part of the government’s three-year £780m investment in treatment announced late last year, those areas ‘most affected by drug-related crime and addiction’ – including Birmingham, County Durham and Leeds – will receive additional funding totalling £300m over the three year period.
The money will help to improve access to treatment and increase the capacity of services, said health secretary Sajid Javid. ‘This is a significant step in our commitment to rebuild the drug treatment system, save lives and level up the country,’ he stated. ‘We’re investing a record amount in treatment services and ensuring some of the most deprived areas in England are first in line for this funding. Treatment is just one element of our far-reaching strategy to better rehabilitate drug users – whether it’s helping people get jobs, creating a stable home or cracking down on supply.’
The government has also announced plans to enhance its Project ADDER scheme through ‘more intensive oversight’ by the criminal justice system. A support package will be provided to all opiate and crack users in ADDER areas, it says, while people who commit ‘neighbourhood crimes’ like burglary, robbery or theft will be subject to ‘joint probation and police supervision’, with more frequent contact from the authorities and improved information sharing between agencies. The plans will also see greater use of community sentences with drug rehabilitation requirements, drug testing and ‘stronger electronic monitoring options’, the government states.
‘The rate of drug-related deaths remains at crisis levels and each death sends ripples through families and communities, with the impact continuing to be felt years down the line,’ commented Jon Murray, With You Director of Services for England. ‘It’s important to remember that problematic drug use is often a reaction to people’s surroundings,’ he said. ‘Issues such as rising homelessness, poor mental health and a lack of economic opportunities in some areas can all lead to people using drugs. With this in mind, there’s no surprise that drug related deaths are highest in the country’s most deprived areas.
‘Each area faces their own distinct and complex challenges but what we can already say is that further funding could be used to increase the number of people who can access treatment, contribute to wider provision of naloxone as well as improving workforce skills.’
His charity welcomed the ‘serious political commitment to investing in treatment’ and looked forward to ‘working collaboratively to address these complex issues, with the compassion and support people deserve’.