Up to £53m is to be allocated to 28 local authorities across England to improve housing support for people in drug and alcohol treatment, the government has announced. ‘People in treatment for drug and alcohol dependence are often easier to support if their housing needs are addressed at the same time,’ the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) states.
The money will go to the areas with the greatest need, across all regions of England, says DHSC, and will allow local authorities to establish housing support schemes tailored to their local populations. The funding will also ‘test the impact’ of providing extra housing support to improve recovery, it adds.
The aim is to help people in treatment achieve sustainable, long-term recovery through maintaining independent living, and is part of the government’s commitment to improve recovery outcomes as part of its ten-year drug strategy, DHSC states. It will also enable the recruitment of specialist housing caseworkers to help people to access and maintain safe and suitable accommodation.
In Manchester, the caseworkers will work from three ‘prevention hubs’ and will be able to provide a rapid response to any housing issues, while in Wigan people with experience of drug and alcohol treatment will help people who are struggling to maintain independent living. Staff across treatment services and housing in Lancashire, meanwhile, will have a training programme to establish a joined-up system of care for people experiencing homelessness.
The money forms part of the £780m announced in the wake of the drug strategy, with the programme lasting for three years. The 28 allocations are all in excess of £1m, with other local authority areas including Bristol, County Durham, Essex, Kent, Kingston upon Hull, Leeds, Liverpool and Middlesbrough.
‘Addressing the housing-related needs of people in treatment with drug and alcohol dependence was a critical part of my Independent review of drugs,’ said Dame Carol Black. ‘I am pleased that government is working with 28 local authorities across England to test the effectiveness of housing support interventions over the next three years. Learning from these areas will inform and drive forward the ten-year drugs strategy, making the case for safe and supportive housing in recovery from addiction.’
‘We have known, for too long, that people in drug treatment with housing problems do less well in their recovery,’ added OHID’s director of addictions and inclusion, Rosanna O’Connor. ‘What we know less about is how to address these problems. For the first time, dedicated funding is available to improve housing support. The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities are working closely with 28 local authorities up until 2025 to test and learn from specific approaches to housing support for this population, and government will take the learning from these areas forward as part of its work to implement the drugs strategy.’
The latest OHID figures on young people in treatment, meanwhile, show that there were 11,326 under-18s in contact with drug and alcohol services in 2021-22 – 3 per cent up on the previous year but more than 50 per cent lower than in 2008-09. Around half of all young people in treatment had issues with alcohol, while almost 90 per cent reported problems with cannabis. Problems with ecstasy and powder cocaine stood at 8 per cent each, while the number of young people seeking help for heroin was below 0.5 per cent.
See the March issue of DDN for more on housing and recovery