Funding row engulfs drug support network

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THE row over how drug support services are to be run in Fife has continued after ‘clear the air’ talks appeared to prove futile.

Fife Alcohol and Drug Partnership (Fife ADP) met on Thursday with representatives from the local groups – the third sector providers – now operating as a joint consortium, the Fife Action on Drugs and Alcohol (FADA).

The meeting was to provide an opportunity to “dispel myths” surrounding the grant applications, which have seen funding slashed to local services and contracts taken over by national groups such as Barnardos.

Fife ADP stressed that improving services was at the heart of these changes and encouraged organisations to work together in the interest of the clients

While the ultimate aims of the ADP have the providers’ support, the funding procedures do not.

George Cunningham, chair of Fife ADP, maintained: “Prior to April 2010 funding was allocated to drug and alcohol services in the voluntary sector without a standardised application or monitoring process.

“Fife ADP adopted Fife Council’s Voluntary Sector Funding and Monitoring Framework to commission services in the future – a grants funding process as opposed to a tendering one.

“The grant funding proposed to be allocated to drug and alcohol services in Fife this year will ensure the best possible services are delivered for those affected by substance misuse, providing services which are joined up, where duplication is reduced and tailored to meet individual needs.”

“Fife ADP consulted with stakeholders and voluntary organisations throughout the grants application process, with CVS Fife, the Scottish Drugs Forum and Alcohol Focus also informed.”

FADA acknowledged the meeting was productive in getting all parties together, but that it failed to address the “flawed” application process.

It has asked for an independent review of the commissioning procedures, claiming the process has been inconsistent and lacking in transparency.

In a statement, FADA said it supported Mr Cunningham, in his advocacy of “the best possible services” and looked forward to working with ADP in finding the best route for providing these.

“FADA continues to focus on the importance of continuity in the delivery of high quality drug and alcohol services for the people of Fife and has expressed its commitment to ensure that service delivery is not compromised during this period of uncertainty,” it concluded.

Robert Grant, manager of the Drugs and Alcohol Project Limited (DAPL) told the Mail: “DAPL was one of the agencies that attended the meeting. In my view it did not dispel any ‘myths’ around recent applications it only served to raise further questions and inaccuracies in the report that was sent to politicians in Fife.

“There were various questions raised at the meeting that ADP couldn’t answer.”

John O’Brien, of the Lee O’Brien Solvent Trust (LOST), added: “I don’t agree with Fife ADP’s decision.

“LOST has filled the gap in services for the past 10 years and this has been commissioned by the Fife ADP at a cost of £10,000 a year. Why give another organisation millions of pounds to do this service?”

A final decision will be made by councillors on August 25 at Fife Council’s Health and Social Care Partnership meeting.