Scottish Government accused of 'slashing' budget for drug and alcohol partnerships

Scottish Labour has accused Holyrood ministers of imposing real terms cuts on vital support networks for those suffering from drug and alcohol problems in Scotland.

The party said Alcohol and Drug Partnerships (ADPs) had suffered successive real terms cuts to their funding from the SNP government, with funding for ADPs falling by 6.3 per cent between 2018-19 and 2014-15.

There are 31 ADPs across Scotland, which bring together local partners including health boards, local authorities, police and voluntary agencies. They are responsible for commissioning and developing local strategies for tackling problem alcohol and drug use and promoting recovery, based on an assessment of local needs.

It was revealed yesterday that 1,187 people suffered a drug-related death in 2018 – a 27 per cent increase year-on-year. Scotland now has a higher rate of drug-related deaths than the USA and every other EU nation.

A record number of Scots were killed by drugs last year

The Scottish Government said it was committed to tackling what it described as a public health crisis.

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“They should be investing in Alcohol and Drug Partnership funding, not slashing support to those who badly need help.

“Whilst these cuts were imposed Scotland’s drug crisis has spiralled out of control, claiming the lives of 1,187 people in the last year alone.

“Scottish Labour has repeatedly called on the SNP government to declare a public health emergency and use every power available to prevent drug and alcohol related deaths.

“The SNP government must listen to Scotland’s leading alcohol and drug charities on this issue and end the cuts to these vital support networks.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "What Scotland faces in terms of drugs deaths is an emergency. We are committed to tackling this issue, which is why the Drug Death Taskforce has been set up.

“We have invested over £746 million to tackle problem alcohol and drug use since 2008. Despite this investment, drug deaths have continued to increase over this period. This funding has directly supported local prevention, treatment, and recovery services.

“In 2016-17 a portion of funding for alcohol and drug services was baselined with NHS boards, and we were clear with boards that these services should be protected within their increased investment from the Scottish Government.

“We have also allocated a further £20 million per year in recent years to improve alcohol and drug treatment services in communities, and this will be at least maintained in each remaining year of this Parliament. We want to encourage a shift in thinking and practice in how services are designed and delivered, with the aim of improving the quality and provision of services for those who are most at risk.”