Alcohol and Drugs Policy (Budget)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 11 January 2024.

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Photo of Carol Mochan Carol Mochan Labour

7. To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on whether its proposed budget spend increase of £0.1 million for alcohol and drugs policy, which is reportedly a real-terms reduction, is sufficient to address the challenges faced in this area. (S6O-02956)

Photo of Elena Whitham Elena Whitham Scottish National Party

The

2024-25 alcohol and drugs budget has remained the same as that for 2023-24. The minor change seen in the published 2024-25 budget is not a proposed budget spend increase; rather, it shows funding being formally baselined into the alcohol and drugs budget line. The £13.6 million budget increase from 2022-23 to 2023-24 includes an additional £12 million to deliver the cross-Government plan, which was published in January 2023. The remaining £1.6 million increase covers portfolio operating costs for drug and alcohol staff, the funding for which was previously held centrally. Funding for drugs policy has increased by 67 per cent in real terms from 2014-15 to 2023-24, according to Audit Scotland figures published in 2022.

Photo of Carol Mochan Carol Mochan Labour

We need to get some reality here. The Scottish Government declared alcohol harm as a public health emergency in its 2022-23 budget. Since then, the number of people losing their lives to alcohol has tragically increased while, since 2016-17, the number of people with alcohol problems who are accessing treatment has fallen dramatically.

Is it time for the Scottish Government to stop tinkering on the edges and instead put forward a comprehensive strategy to ensure that fewer people experience problems caused by alcohol and that people get the support and treatment that they need when they need it?

Photo of Elena Whitham Elena Whitham Scottish National Party

I thank Carol Mochan for that question, which gives me the opportunity to inform the Parliament that, in the coming weeks, we will have a debate in the chamber on alcohol harms and how the Scottish Government is seeking to address the matter. I look forward to having Carol Mochan and others participate in that debate with me.

The Presiding Officer:

That concludes general questions.