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Drug treatment cash to councils may hinge on recovery rates

Local authorities could soon get funds for treating drug addicts on the basis of how many successfully recover from dependency.

The government proposes to revise the formula for distributing budgets to include an additional element which would reward partnerships for the number of individuals who have successfully overcome addiction in each locality.

The idea of financial incentives for commissioners who achieve good recovery outcomes is being developed by the National Treatment Agency (NTA) in parallel with the government's plans for pilot schemes to pay treatment providers by the results they obtain.

It will come into force in 2012 when local authorities take over responsibility for commissioning local drug treatment services under the government's public health reforms. At that time, the NTA will become part of the new Public Health England within the Department of Health.

Today the local partnerships which currently commission drug treatment services were told by the NTA how much they will get in 2011 from a total budget for community and prison services that is worth about £570m.

From April, most central funding for drug treatment will become the responsibility of the Department of Health. The creation of "one pot, one purpose" will enable partnerships to reshape local systems and prisons services to accelerate recovery for service users.

The NTA estimates that the total available for prison and community treatment next year is virtually unchanged, less than 2 per cent below the amount for 2010-11.    .

But the NTA is warning local government and health authorities of the danger of reducing their own contributions to local drug treatment services in the run-up to NHS reforms.  NTA chief executive Paul Hayes said:

“This investment is a substantial commitment by central government at a time when all budgets are being squeezed and many publicly-funded programmes are being reduced.   I believe the sum is sufficient to enable the field to deliver the transformative change set out in the Drug Strategy and ensure that 2011-12 is the year of transition to a recovery-focused treatment system.

“The biggest threat to these ambitions is the potential for local disinvestment.  With the impending abolition of PCTs and severe budgetary pressures on local authorities, there is legitimate concern across the treatment field that the funding traditionally provided locally will be squeezed.  I believe this would be a grave mistake, and is clearly not what the Government’s Drug Strategy aims for, nor what the local Health and Well-being boards and Police and Crime Commissioners would wish to inherit.”


Notes to editors

The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA) is a National Health Service (NHS) special health authority which aims to improve the availability, capacity and effectiveness of drug treatment in England.  We help people to overcome addiction and regain their lives.

The NTA advises government on the allocation of funds for community and prison drug treatment.

Community treatment is funded through the Pooled Treatment Budget, which remains unchanged for 2011-12 at £406.7m. Under the current distribution formula, local partnerships receive a quarter of their allocation for adult treatment based on social deprivation indicators and three-quarters according to their growth in the numbers of adults in effective treatment compared to the national average.

The NTA is now developing an additional performance-related element to the formula for 2012-13 which will reward partnerships for the number of individuals successfully overcoming addiction in each locality.  This will be, based on the outcomes delivered by individual partnerships in 2011-12, although the proportion of the formula this new element will comprise has not yet been decided.

The 2010 Drug Strategy confirmed that from April 2011 the Department of Health (DH) will take responsibility for funding all drug treatment in prison and the community. In addition, DH will support the Home Office in funding a continuing programme to ensure drug-related offenders get access to treatment.

The strategy also set out plans for pilot schemes to explore how payment by results could work for adult drug treatment.

Details of the financial allocations for 2011-12 are set out in a letter from Paul Hayes to partnerships.

For further information please contact Lynne Nasti, Senior Communications Officer (Media), on 020 7972 1920 or Communications Team duty desk 020 7972 1802 (business hours) or 07747 535961 (out of hours)

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