Services for people with alcohol and other drug problems in England and Wales saw budgets cut 15% in the three years to last year, when associated deaths hit record numbers.
A record 7,423 people in England and Wales died from alcohol-specific causes and 4,561 people died from causes related to drug poisoning, another record.
“It is unacceptable public health services that tackle alcohol and drug addiction are left so weakened because of deep cuts when we know that they can cause huge harm and death,” said Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary.
Council spending on services to prevent them, meanwhile, fell to £690m from £762m in 2017, 15% after inflation, says analysis by the House of Commons Library for the Labour Party.
Four councils saw real-terms cuts in alcohol and drug services of over 40%, namely Medway, namely South Tyneside, Staffordshire and Wiltshire. Only ten saw a spending rise on these services.
“Treatment is essential to help those with alcohol dependence towards recovery but has long been underfunded and inaccessible to many,” said Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK. ■