Sector Conversation

Collective Voice will be launching a national conversation with the sector in September.

The volatile political situation, a new Prime Minister and cabinet, and the impact of Brexit on public expenditure have major implications for the continued delivery of adequately resourced, evidenced and effective alcohol and drug treatment.

The immediate consequence of recent events is that the delayed 2016 Drug Strategy refresh will probably need to be revisited by the incoming Home Office ministerial team, pushing back publication until later in the year. In our view the sector cannot afford to wait until the drug strategy is published before it collectively considers how to respond to the challenges the emerging political landscape represents.

Government continues to be committed to treatment as a key tool to reduce crime, evidenced by the powerful endorsement of current policy in the ‘Modern Crime Prevention Strategy’ launched by the Home Secretary in April. Similarly dependence is recognised as a major barrier to social inclusion by the priority given to drugs and alcohol interventions in the Life Chances Fund launched by the Cabinet Office last week. Meanwhile against a backdrop of continuing reductions in Local Authority budgets, Simon Stephens the head of the NHS told MPs in June that adequate investment in alcohol and drug services today is vital to prevent unsustainable demands on scarce NHS resources in the future.

Collective Voice will be holding a series of events starting in September to enable the entire sector to reflect on the emerging landscape and identify how to move forward in ways that protect the interests of service users and communities. Officials from relevant government departments will attend to provide up to date intelligence and participate in the dialogue. Separate events will be held for service users, adult providers, young people’s providers, and commissioners to allow attendees to focus on the opportunities and challenges they face every day to translate the aspirations of policy into practical reality.

Details of venues and timings will be available shortly on the Collective Voice website.

One Response to Sector Conversation

  1. Annemarie Ward 12/07/2016 at 1:39 pm #

    As the UK’s leading recovery advocacy organisation, with over 2,000 members, we are delighted that Collective Voice is campaigning against disinvestment in treatment and recovery support services for alcohol and other drugs. However, I do have a question for Collective Voice. Forgive my naiveté, but my understanding is that when a local authority in England put services out to tender, bids are received from potential service providers, competing on price and quality, and in the majority of cases the new contract is awarded to the bidder with the lowest costs, resulting in savings for the commissioners and these savings are then permanently lost to alcohol and drugs services. In most cases it is the organisations that are members of Collective Voice undercut each other in an attempt to win the contract, resulting in the “race to the bottom” and the permanent loss of (often substantial) funding to alcohol and drugs services. I have heard Collective Voice described as a “cartel” but any cartel worth its name effectively “fixes” prices through the cooperation of its members (who are often commercial competitors). There seems to be no reason why the organisations that are members of Collective Voice could not cooperate and refuse to undercut each other during service re-tendering, thereby ensuring that funding levels are maintained or that levels of disinvestment are minimised. How does Collective Voice reconcile it’s rhetoric (campaigning against disinvestment) with the reality (its members undercutting each other, leading to reduced levels of investment in services)?

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