Council spends £1.4m less on drugs and alcohol services after cuts to budgets

Drugs service spending has been reduced after government grants were cut
Drugs service spending has been reduced after government grants were cut
Ethan Roberts-Watts, 13, from Gosport, is donating presents to elderly patients at QA Hospital

Gosport boy answers QA Hospital appeal and donates gifts to patients

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A COUNCIL is spending £1.4m less on its substance misuse services compared to four years ago.

A Freedom of Information request by UK Addiction Treatment Centres (Ukat) found in 2013/14 Portsmouth City Council spent £4.4m on strategies to help people with substance misuse problems.

But in 2017/18, it spend £2.9m on the same services.

Councillor Luke Stubbs, cabinet member for adult social care and public health, said cuts to budgets had seen the council reduce its spending but a large part of its grant still goes on substance misuse.

The news comes at a time when the number of people dying from drug-related abuse in England is the highest since records began. In Portsmouth, deaths related to drug misuse have increased by 34 per cent over the last four years according to recent data released by the Office of National Statistics.

Eytan Alexander, founder of Ukat, said: ‘What our Freedom of Information Requests reveal is that since the government made the decision to remove the protected drug and alcohol treatment budget, Portsmouth council has been forced into spinning even more plates with even less money.

‘Slashing budgets on substance misuse is a false economy as it simply piles the pressure on our already-stretched emergency services.

‘The alarming correlation between the real-term cut to council budgets and the rise in drug-related deaths across the country needs to be addressed and this vicious cycle needs to end.’

Councillor Stubbs said since having to cut budgets, the council has been working with other organisations.

‘Reducing budgets means there has been a reduction in what we spend on substance misuse but we still spend a significant proportion of the budget here compared to other areas,’ he said.

‘We’ve also looked to be more efficient in how we deliver substance misuse treatment, including the appointment of the Society of St James as the joint provider for homelessness and substance misuse services in the city.

‘They are also proactive in bidding for additional external funding to help them deliver services to those in recovery.

‘There is also support for substance misuse from the NHS for those who are being treated for mental health issues so the spend from local authority isn’t the full picture.’