An umbrella organisation representing community drug projects said women, lone parents, and people with disabilities who want to get off drugs are dropping out of these programmes because of social welfare changes in recent budgets.
The changes — which effectively result in cuts to money these people receive — are sending rehabilitation projects into a downward cycle as fewer participants means less funding.
Citywide Drugs Crisis Campaign said a new report showed that community drug rehabilitation projects (DRPs) were now facing “major challenges”.
The report said changes introduced to Community Employment schemes aimed at increasing the focus on progressing people into the labour market did not take account of the distinct role of DRPs.
“According to government policy, CE drug rehabilitation projects have been designated as ‘special’ projects in recognition of the fact that they are not operating as a labour market mechanism in the same way as mainstream CE, but rather as a support mechanism through which drug rehabilitation programmes can be delivered,” said Anna Quigley of Citywide.
“DRPs carry out essential work through addressing the barriers that recovering drug users face and through introducing stability, structure, and support into their lives so that they can go on to build a good future for themselves and their families.”
The report found changes to CE and related social welfare payments initiated in Budget 2012 had led to a significant shift in the profile of participants including: A decrease in women, a lower age group and “more varied” levels of stability regarding drug use.
Researchers detailed a drop in applications from lone parents and people with disabilities and an increase in people receiving Job Seekers Payment.
It said that in December 2011, 78% of participants were lone parents or people with disabilities. That had fallen dramatically, to 25%, in November 2013.
The report said projects were experiencing difficulties recruiting people to their programmes. This had a knock-on effect on their resourcing as there is a cut in budgets for projects that do not keep their numbers.
The report said there were no alternative rehab projects for lone parents and people with disabilities.