An extra £421 million of Government cash will be used to boost alcohol and drug treatment and recovery across England, ministers have said.
The new funding will be given to councils across the country to fund initiatives aimed at tackling addiction and cutting crime.
Some 151 councils are being allocated funding from the Department of Health and Social Care, which will allow them to recruit more staff to help people dealing with addiction, give recovery support to prison leavers and invest in enhancing the quality of treatment.
Ministers say the extra cash will prevent nearly 1,000 drug-related deaths, based on estimates from the Government’s drugs strategy.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Drug misuse has a massive cost to society – more than 3,000 people died as a result of drug misuse in 2021.
“This investment in treatment and recovery services is crucial to provide people with high-quality support, with services such as expanding access to life-saving overdose medicines and outreach to young people at risk of drug misuse already helping to reduce harm and improve recovery.
“This funding will help us build a much improved treatment and recovery service which will continue to save lives, improve the health and wellbeing of people across the country, and reduce pressure on the NHS by diverting people from addiction into recovery.”
The work is expected to take place across the next two years, with funding spread out based on need.
The funding includes £154.3 million for 2023/2024 and indicative funding of £266.7 million for 2024/2025.
One of the projects will help Leeds council expand its workforce by 85 full-time staff to target people from economically-deprived areas.
In Lambeth, south London, the council plans to recruit additional nurses to ease frontline pressures on the substance misuse service.
Health minister Neil O’Brien said: “Addictions drive about half of all theft, burglary and robbery, so boosting treatment for addicts will help cut crime.
“This funding will help improve the quality and capacity of drug and alcohol recovery services right across the country, helping more people access the support they need, saving lives and benefiting communities.”
Councils welcomed the extra cash, but warned that more clarity was needed about other funding for public health services.
Councillor David Fothergill, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “This additional funding is important in helping to support councils to address drug and alcohol dependency and will make a real difference to transforming the lives of those who need it in our communities.
“Councils stand ready to work with the Government to make sure everyone gets the right treatment and support. For many problem users, their first experience of treatment is the catalyst for getting the help they need to address their physical and mental health problems.”
He added: “However, councils’ allocations for the local public health grant from April, which also goes to fund local addiction support services, has still yet to be announced – leaving the future of many vital services in doubt.
“The Government should give these services long-term certainty by urgently publishing the public health settlement which help councils plan for the future.”