Thursday, 12 July 2018
Department of Health
Drug and Alcohol Task Forces
363. To ask the Minister for Health if core annual funding to local and regional drug and alcohol task forces will be reviewed and reinstated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31776/18]
The Department of Health secured an additional €6.5 million for drug-related actions in Budget 2018, as a first step in implementing the national drugs strategy, Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery. This additional funding is being used to expand the availability of drug and alcohol treatment services and to improve health services for drug-users who are homeless.
Drug and alcohol task forces play a key role in assessing the extent and nature of the drug problem and in initiating appropriate responses, so that there is a coordinated approach involving all sectors to the problem of substance misuse in local communities. In excess of €27.6 m has been allocated to Task Forces by the HSE and the Department of Health for community-based drugs initiatives this year. This level of funding is consistent with the amounts provided for the last four years.
An additional €250,000 was provided in Budget 2018 to improve the organisational effectiveness of the task forces in implementing the national drugs strategy. Individual task forces can receive up to €10,000 in additional funding. Payment of this funding is currently being processed by my Department and the HSE.
I recently announced a further €290,000 for task forces to support and enhance services addressing drug and alcohol misuse. This money will be allocated in quarter four of 2018. In addition, task forces will be consulted by the HSE on the provision of €710,000 for priority projects and services in CHO areas.
The provision of additional funding for drug and alcohol addiction services, including Drug and Alcohol Task Forces, must be considered in the context of the estimates process for 2019.
I strongly believe that resources should be directed towards interventions that are most effective in reducing problem substance use. Measuring the effectiveness of responses to the drug problem is therefore an important objective of public policy. Towards this end, my Department will develop a performance measurement system by 2020 which will improve accountability across all sectors, including the task forces.