Alcohol projects need to ‘bend rules’

A leading policy officer at the Home Office has advised
organisations working with alcoholics to “bend” the rules to get
hold of funds “ring-fenced” for drug users.

Speaking at a conference on social housing and drug abuse in north
London last week, Robin Burgess, Home Office policy lead on housing
renewal and regeneration for the drugs strategy, said: “This is not
the official Home Office view, but I would say be creative, be
imaginative on how you get hold of some of the money that’s drug

Service providers have often criticised the government for focusing
on the drug problem and putting alcohol on the backburner. The
Cabinet Office is due to publish its long-awaited alcohol harm
reduction strategy later this year.

Richard Phillips, director of policy and services at the charity
Alcohol Concern, said: “The alcohol problem is far, far bigger than
the drugs problem in this country. But it is not up to us to tell
people to break their professional rules. However, I do hope that
this indicates thinking to target resources to the level of harm
caused by different substances.”

Yvonne Oliver, the director of Ripple, a Bradford-based drugs and
alcohol dependency clinic and rehabilitation programme, added: “We
can bend the rules. And I already do because I say alcohol is a

Drug agencies need to “engage communities” and let “ordinary
people” have a say in the type of services available to addicts in
their neighbourhoods, Burgess went on to tell delegates.

He said that the Home Office would be releasing new guidance on
engaging communities in drug services next March.

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