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Cranstoun responds to the 2021 Spending Review

Posted on: 2 November, 2021

Cranstoun is a social justice charity empowering people and empowering change working across the areas of substance use, criminal justice, domestic abuse, housing, and young people. The spending review is an opportunity for government to invest in the future, to tackle inequalities and support people in the UK to prosper. 

People have been badly let down by years of disinvestment and cuts to drug and alcohol treatment and supporting budgets such as investment in early help, mental health, and housing. This year, the UK is faced with the worst drug related deaths on record. The spending review outlined £42m per year for ‘new programmes that reduce crime and drugs misuse’ but currently, with no further detail. This falls far short of the investment needed and outlined in the two-part Dame Carol Black report which outlined the scale of the problem and subsequent recommendations for a whole system approach. It is well documented that treatment is protective against fatal overdose and a range of other substance use related harms. However, those that most need treatment are too often the least likely to be able to access it, gain from it and remain in it. This happens because the treatment goal is abstinence rather than taking a broader view of recovery, including the adoption of harm reduction approaches proven to be more effective. Therefore, the aims of treatment and expenditure on it must be aligned to the evidence of what works best.

Some good news on housing. Cranstoun were pleased to see the Government response to the COVID-19 pandemic with the ‘everyone in’ campaign and a significant investment in housing and homelessness services. We welcome that government is not calling for ‘everyone out’. The stability of £640m per year for the next 3 years for rough sleeping and homelessness is essential. It is down on this year but up on pre-COVID levels. However, this must now lead to greater consistency and longer-term commissioning locally whilst also ensuring that people are supported in surrounding support services such as substance use, mental health, and support provision to tackle domestic abuse, including perpetrator programmes. Cranstoun is a provider for Housing First and we are incredibly passionate about providing secure accommodation for everyone before they can address other problems such as drug use. It was concerning to see no detail on the future of Housing First and we will continue to influence for a rollout and a sustainable national Housing First programme.

Cranstoun was disappointed to see a huge £3.8bn for the “biggest prison-building programme in a generation”. For the huge majority who we currently incarcerate, they would be better supported through mental health and substance use treatment. Our prisons are full of people who have been let down by society, record levels of poor literacy rates, record levels of trauma and brain injury and record levels of substance use and mental health problems. Investment in diversion, out of court disposals, interventions in custody and a greater investment in support at the early help stage would reduce cost to society in the future and support many more people to thrive. Prison is far more expensive than non-custodial disposals, particularly for people with substance use problems. The money invested in prisons does little to address the underlying root causes of criminality in comparison to alternative interventions.

On Domestic Abuse, Cranstoun await the full detail and spend on domestic abuse. We continue to advocate for a holistic approach to support the whole family, and crucially, to work with perpetrators to achieve behavior change.

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