Concern over budgets for local Alcohol and Drug Partnerships in 2016-17

"Our biggest concern is, of course, with the human consequences of any decreases, but there is also the very strong argument that cuts to frontline services will lead to a major increase in costs elsewhere – through increased BBV infections, increased hospital admissions, increased crime and criminal justice costs etc.”                                                                              - David Liddell, SDF CEO

The Scottish Government draft budget published in December included a reduction in the combined drug and alcohol funding from £69.2 million in the current financial year to £53.8 million in 2016-17. 

The context of the proposed transfer of drugs from Justice to Health within the Scottish Government structure contributed to local confusion over whether there would be resultant cuts. 

The Cabinet Secretary for Health, Shona Robison, has written to Health Board Chief Executives in early January stating her expectation that they would cover this shortfall from health budgets which see a 6.5% increase in the draft budget:

“In bringing the health and justice budgets together we’ll be providing £55.3 million from direct departmental allocations, with approximately £53.8 million being provided to boards for the purposes of supporting the treatment of drug and alcohol misuse.

“From the increased board baseline budgets we would expect a total of £15 million to also go towards supporting these efforts and maintain the overall spending on addressing alcohol and substance misuse, maintaining alcohol and drugs treatment performance at existing levels across ADP locales.”

Despite this stated expectation from Government, there are discussions currently taking place across the country between ADPs and Health Boards to clarify exactly what the funding position will be from April this year.

SDF has raised concerns over the initial confusion experienced locally and over the willingness of health boards to meet Scottish Government’s stated expectations. 

Also, SDF and other concerned organisations have written to the Cabinet Secretaries for Health and Justice raising our collective concerns regarding the potential impacts of any reduction in local funding.

SDF’s Chief Executive Officer, David Liddell, said:

“ADPs and the wider drugs sector have real concerns over the negotiations on local 2016/17 spending as these could undermine budgets for drug treatment which have been protected as a matter of Government policy over the whole of the last Parliament.

“The fear is that these negotiations will lead to reductions in the overall envelope of funding for frontline services aimed at some of the most vulnerable people in society.  This has the potential to increase harm and drug-related deaths at a time when we are already facing a hugely challenging situation. 

“Our biggest concern is, of course, with the human consequences of any decreases, but there is also the very strong argument that cuts to frontline services will lead to a major increase in costs elsewhere – through increased BBV infections, increased hospital admissions, increased crime and criminal justice costs etc.”

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