Services for young people with drug and alcohol problems are facing “severe” cuts at the start of the financial year due to a £6m shortfall in government funding, a leading drugs charity warned today.
Drugscope said qualified staff were being made redundant or moved as services including alcohol prevention and education were slashed.
Martin Barnes, Drugscope chief executive, said workers were “alarmed” by the impact of the 10 per cent cut in the young people’s substance misuse grant.
In February, the Home Office announced that the grant for 2007-8 would be £55.2m, compared to £61.8m in 2006-7.
“The cut is extraordinary given that tackling drug and alcohol misuse among young people is a government priority,” Barnes said. “This is disastrous for local services working with vulnerable children and young people with drug and alcohol problems or at risk of becoming problem drug users.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “We are committed to tackling young people’s substance misuse and this grant is one of a range of ways through which we tackle drugs. The school survey, published last week, showed that drug misuse among young people had fallen in 2006 compared to the previous year.
“We have invested £7.5 billion in tackling drugs since 2001 and drug misuse has fallen by 21 per cent in the last seven years. We will continue to tackle drugs through education, enforcement and treatment.
“The Department of Health also contributes funding for young people’s drug treatment within this grant and this will increase to £24.7 million in 2007-08, continuing an upward trend over the last few years.”