Latest Drugscope report provides ‘health check’ on the state of the drug and alcohol treatment sector

25 February 2015

A new report from Drugscope shows that there has been a reduction of funding for drug treatment services which has impacted negatively on the quality of provision. The report, ‘State of the Sector 2014 – 2015’, was released in the same week that David Cameron proposed to cut claimants’ benefits if they refused treatment for weight and addiction issues.

The report draws on data collected from professionals working across the sector who reported increasing caseloads and an overall decrease in funding by around 16.5 per cent. The report also found that there has been an increasing dependence on volunteer recovery staff and a reduction of frontline and back office staff due to lack of funding.

The reduction of funding has had further impacts on service delivery, resulting in a general deterioration of with core services such as: outreach; education, training and employment support; and health services. This represents a marked diversion from the 2008/9 reforms which planned to improve access to drugs treatment for benefit claimants.

Alongside these reports of increasing caseloads and depleted services, the Conservative Party has proposed to reduce the benefits of people with drug or weight related health problems who claim sickness benefit and ‘refuse’ treatment.

Cameron stated that ‘It is not fair to ask hardworking taxpayers to fund the benefits of people who refuse to accept the support and treatment that could help them get back to a life of work.’

Tony Wilson, Director of Policy at Inclusion has warned that the Conservative’s proposals for mandatory treatment plans would require ‘Jobcentre Plus advisers to act like health professionals, and health professionals to act like Jobcentre Plus advisers’. Tony’s blog can be read here.
Rowena Mason writes in the guardian that the announcement ‘comes in a week when the Tories have been criticised for failing to deal with tax avoidance for the richest while cutting benefits for the poorest.’