Cuts to life-saving drug and alcohol treatment in Wiltshire have been branded “heartless” and “shameful”.

UK Addiction Treatment Centres (UKAT) has blasted the local authority for slashing over £4.5m from lifeline treatment for substance misuse funding in the last five years.

Figures show that council bosses in 2016/17 budgeted £6,576,000 for drug and alcohol addiction treatments for adults in Wiltshire.

In 2021/22 that same combined budget is £2,032,000 – representing a £4,544,000 (69 per cent) cut in funding. 

Treatment for drug misuse in adults was cut from £4,481,000 in 2016/17 to £1,211,000 (72 per cent) in 2021/22.

While treatment for alcohol misuse in adults was slashed from £1,095,000 to £821,000 (60 per cent) over the same period. 

READ MORE: Plans for 11 foot statue of King Aethelstan withdrawn because of mixed reaction

Nuno Albuquerque, head of treatment for UKAT, claims the ring-fenced cash has “disappeared into Wiltshire Council budget spreadsheets” and spent elsewhere.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Nuno Albuquerque, head of treatment for UKATNuno Albuquerque, head of treatment for UKAT

“It doesn’t take a genius to work out that as less and less is spent on providing treatment, the problem worsens,” he continued

“Councils across the country are encouraged by the government to invest in treatment; they know that for every £1 spent on drug treatment, £4 is saved and for every £1 spent on alcohol treatment, £3 is saved.

“Cutting these budgets is a false economy and is only unfairly hitting those who live in Wiltshire the hardest.”

Cabinet member for public health, Simon Jacobs said: “Our main adult contract spend across Wiltshire and Swindon is £3.46mwith contributions from Office of Police Crime Commissioner.

"In addition, Wiltshire also invests an additional £936,456 which includes, rehabilitation, supported accommodations and young people substance misuse services.

"Which has increased our substance misuse service offer and investment in Wiltshire.

ALSO READ: One year from Good Energy pulling out of multi-million deal with Wiltshire Council questions still left unanswered


“This has been made possible by our joint commissioning arrangements with Swindon Borough Council, reducing building costs by using community spaces and acquiring our own hub through other funding streams.

"We have also received an additional universal grant from Public Health England. This have enabled the service to be much more efficient while still ensuring people get the support they need.

“We have seen an increase in referrals since the pandemic, but the service has managed these effectively, without an increase in waiting times. The digital offer has been used effectively to enable people to get quick access to treatment during unprecedented times and the main hubs have also remained open throughout.”

For 24/7 live chat on drug or alcohol misuse, or to find treatment options across Wiltshire and the South West, visit