Funding cut for drink and drug services

VITAL services which help young people tackle drug and alcohol problems have been hit by a government decision to slash funding, it emerged today.Suffolk's drug and alcohol workers face the prospect of halting extra measures to stop drugs destroying young lives after nearly £200,000 was cut from the pool of funds used to help people kick crippling drug habits and to help others avoid developing addictions in the first place.

VITAL services which help young people tackle drug and alcohol problems have been hit by a government decision to slash funding, it emerged today.

Suffolk's drug and alcohol workers face the prospect of halting extra measures to stop drugs destroying young lives after nearly £200,000 was cut from the pool of funds used to help people kick crippling drug habits and to help others avoid developing addictions in the first place.

The Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT) has been forced to find ways to “trim” its budget following the decision to cut its Young People's Substance Misuse Grant by £80,000, from £600,000 this financial year to £520,000 in 2007/08.

On top of that its main grant - the pooled treatment budget - has been reduced by £117,000 from the £3.9million which was distributed by the government in 2006/07.


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The reduction in funding will mean that plans to expand drug and alcohol prevention programmes - including education programmes in schools - will be put on hold and new initiatives will not be introduced.

John Field, the chairman of Suffolk County Council's public protection scrutiny committee which oversees the work of the DAAT, said the cut in funding was “appalling”.

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He said: “It's very clear that these are treatments that are effective. It's not just pouring money down a black hole.

“You can do things that pull people back from addiction, people can re-establish a healthy life and anything we can do to help is vital.”

Simon Aalders, Suffolk DAAT co-ordinator, said every effort would be made to ensure key services were not affected but he warned that new initiatives and planned expansions of services would be hit.

He said: “It's far from ideal.

“Some of the things we wanted to implement we'll just have to put on hold.

“Our job is to make sure that any effects are absolutely minimised.

“It won't effect core service provision at all but it might slow down some of the plans we had to operate new services or expand existing ones.”

Are you worried about this cut in funding? Have Suffolk's drug and alcohol programmes helped you turn around your life? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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