Analysis for the Labour Party by the House of Commons Library has shown that local authority drug and alcohol treatment services faced real-terms budget cuts of 15% over a four year period.
In 2016/17 the total local authority spend on drug and alcohol treatment services was £762.37 million, falling to £689.76 million in 2019/20. Taken in real terms, this is equivalent to a 15% cut over four years.
Just ten local authorities have been able to increase drug and alcohol use spending in real terms since 2016, with all other local authorities experiencing a real term budget cut. Four local authorities (South Tyneside, Wiltshire, Staffordshire, and Medway) all saw real terms cuts of over 40%.
Local authority public health budgets have faced years of cuts, forcing local authorities to make incredibly difficult decisions about the services they provide.
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said: “With deaths linked to alcohol and other drugs at an all time high, urgent action must be taken to save lives. Treatment is essential to help those with alcohol dependence towards recovery but has long been underfunded and inaccessible to many. In England, only one in five dependent drinkers are in treatment and continual cuts to services denies help to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
“We look forward to working with the Government on the forthcoming Addiction Strategy to ensure that the epidemic of alcohol harm gets the attention it deserves and that adequate resources are allocated to preventing and treating it.”