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Written Statement - 2011 Annual Substance Misuse Progress Report

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Carl Sargeant, Minister for Local Government and Communities

The Welsh Government published a ten year strategy “Working Together to Reduce Harm” to tackle substance misuse in Wales in October 2008 which sets out a clear national agenda for tackling and reducing the harms associated with substance misuse in Wales. 
 
Following a change in Ministerial portfolios in May, the lead responsibility for the substance misuse agenda now rests with me as Minister for Local Government and Communities.

The recently published Programme for Government sets out, what the Welsh Government, wants to achieve over the next five years. Chapter Seven entitled “Safer Communities for All” sets out my vision of making our communities safer by reducing the impact of harms associated with substance misuse.

This vision will not be realised by the Welsh Government working alone and we must continue to work in partnership to ensure that progress is made.

I have recently communicated the regional footprint on which the Welsh Government expects public services to work, which build on the Local Health Board and police boundaries. This footprint provides clarity around how public services should collaborate and in a time of continued financial pressures I am keen to ensure that we strengthen arrangements for regional collaboration to plan, commission, performance manage and, where appropriate, deliver services more effectively whilst ensuring the best value for money.

In the substance misuse field we are able to provide evidence of how this can work in practice with the implementation of Area Planning Boards and I expect these Boards to continue to work to strengthen the partnership arrangements across regional boundaries. To assist in this process we are currently undertaking a review of the Boards to share best practice and to identify areas where the Welsh Government can assist partners to enhance regional collaboration.

In times of austerity all partners need to be assured that they are using the resources that are available to the best effect. The Welsh Government will be evaluating the first three years of its ten year strategy.  This evaluation will incorporate a cost benefit analysis to assess the impact of the strategy to date. We will also be reviewing the funding formula used to distribute funds to Community Safety Partnerships as well as reviewing our Key Performance Indicators to ensure they are more outcome focused.

Further detail will be published once this key piece of work has been completed. Meanwhile I can confirm our commitment to an enhanced focus on improved volumes of treatment outcomes, safeguarding children from parents who misuse substances and a reduction in drug related deaths as outlined in the Programme for Government.  

The attached report provides a summary of progress made to implement the new strategy and how the Welsh Government and its partners have delivered on the key actions contained in the first three year implementation plan.