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The Drugs Strategy – Collective Voice analysis of early implementation for the NAO

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The National Audit Office (NAO) is undertaking a value-for-money assessment of the government’s ten-year Drugs Strategy From Harm to Hope, looking at how well the strategy is delivering on its aims to reduce the harms from illegal drugs.

After discussions with our Leadership Group which includes our sponsoring organisations and representatives from the wider field, Collective Voice has submitted written evidence to the NAO’s audit. Our submission outlines the impact so-far that the strategy and funding is having on voluntary organisations delivering treatment and recovery services.

We highlight that voluntary organisations welcome the increased focus from the government, and share its goals of building a world-class treatment and recovery system, however:

  • There are persistent structural challenges facing our sector, arising from historical disinvestment, which limit abilities to recruit and retain staff, invest and innovate for the future, and build sector capacity.
  • Organisations continue to face challenges around funding allocations and announcements, while some commissioned services face real-terms cuts to funding levels.
  • Organisations are worried about a potential ‘cliff-edge’ in Drugs Strategy funding after 2025, and about the impact of short-term funding cycles.
  • The creation of the Joint Combatting Drugs Unit (JCDU) and local Combatting Drugs Partnerships (CDPs) give reason to believe that cross-government co-ordination and accountability will improve, but there remains work to be done.
  • The sector is facing a significant increase in levels and complexity of need which challenge capacities and ways-of-working.
  • More needs to be done to understand and respond to the treatment and recovery needs of women and racially minoritized communities.

Please read our full submission for more detailed information on our evaluation of the first 18 months of the Drugs Strategy and what we want to see going forward.

The National Audit Office are currently in the process of compiling their report, and we will provide updates as-and-when they arise.

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Collective Voice is the national charity working to improve England’s drug and alcohol treatment and recovery systems