Salvation Army's response to the UK Drug Strategy 2017

published on 4 Aug 2017

The Salvation Army’s Lee Ball responds to the UK Drug Strategy 2017 released last month. Here he highlights crucial areas for the Government to consider as well as praising its approach:

“We welcome the strategy’s aims including its recognition of the need for greater collaboration between health, housing, justice, and employment. We believe the new cross-government drug strategy board will improve co-ordination in meeting the needs of those who use drugs. The commitment to developing measures which will enable greater transparency, will also ensure basic standards are maintained, and greater consistency of support for people with drug addictions across the UK.

However, The Salvation Army remains concerned over the lack of detail on how some of the new strategy’s wider aims will be implemented and achieved. It is, for example, currently unclear how many of the strategy’s new initiatives will be funded. Unless plans to improve collaboration are supported by adequate funding, and this funding is appropriately targeted, local services may struggle to use their collective skills and experiences to develop solutions.

We also have concerns over how a reduction in resources could impact any new funding model for supported housing. Potential cuts could severely impede the capacity of supported housing projects to support people with addictions in a targeted way to help tackle their specific issues. The Salvation Army is committed to its Harm Reduction Strategy, which  delivers vital and timely support for those struggling with addiction. If appropriate funding is not forthcoming, this support could become even more stretched, at a time when existing drug and alcohol services are expected to deliver more for less.   

The Government must also seek to clarify whether or not certain elements of the new outcomes framework will be mandatory for all local authorities. This would offer a much needed level of reassurance to the drug policy and drug treatment sectors that some of the system’s current inconsistencies could be removed, ensuring that people are not disadvantaged due to arbitrary factors, such as their location.   

For instance, at present, naloxone for the emergency treatment of opiate overdose is available at the vast majority of Salvation Army services across the country. Yet, whilst strategies for the prescription of naloxone exist in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, this is not the case in England. As a result, naloxone is unavailable in certain local authorities in England. This means that people engaging with our services in those areas, risk missing out on this potentially life-saving intervention, simply because of where they have chosen to seek support.

  The Salvation Army looks forward to working with the government to ensure that its new strategy is implemented in the most effective way possible, and so that tailored and targeted support is available for everyone across our UK services, as and when they are needed.”     */