• EN

Countries: national drug-related information and data

United Kingdom

No budgets are allocated under the United Kingdom’s drug strategies. Budget allocations are provided annually to entities in charge of providing services. In 2013 the financing of drug services registered operational changes. For instance, central funding for certain types of drug treatment services to offenders (Drug Interventions programmes) was discontinued in England and Wales. Instead, funds started being transferred to communities within programmes targeting at safeguarding public order. Decentralisation was also applied to the financing of other health programmes. Local authorities have become responsible for public health in England, which may prevent the future ring-fencing of drug treatment services funding.

Authorities have funded three studies on economic and social costs, in 2002, 2006 and 2013 (1, 2). Between 2005 and 2010, labelled expenditure was estimated every year through administrative records, but unlabelled expenditure was rarely available (3).

In 2010 total drug-related expenditure, including expenditure on some indirect consequences of drug use, represented 0.49 % of gross domestic product (GDP), with 64.9 % financing public order and safety, 22.5 % for social protection and 11.7 % for health (4). This distribution was identical for both the total and the unlabelled expenditures. For labelled expenditure, 64.5 % was allocated to health, 28.4 % to public order and safety, 6.0 % to general public services, 1.0 % to social protection and 0.1 % to education.

Trend analysis shows that between 2005 and 2010 labelled expenditures remained broadly stable in terms of the percentage of GDP (varying between 0.07 % and 0.08 % of GDP). In the years leading up to 2010 some labelled expenditures have declined. This was mainly as a result of the mainstreaming of certain grants and a reduction in expenditure on counter-narcotics work in Afghanistan. Budgets for large expenditure items such as drug treatment have seen funding levels maintained in cash terms.

Comprehensive estimates of both labelled and unlabelled expenditure were provided for 2005 and 2010 but they are not comparable. They used different methods and estimated different elements of expenditure.

The decentralisation of public spending, implemented in 2013, could make it more difficult to estimate drug-related expenditure in the United Kingdom as drug budgets become more integrated with wider public health budgets, local areas take more responsibility for dealing with the drug problem and interventions become more focused on early preventive policies.

Table 1: Total drug-related public expenditure, 2010
COFOG classification a Labelled expenditure
(thousand EUR) b
% Unlabelled expenditure
(thousand EUR)
% Total expenditure
(thousand EUR)
% of total c
(a) According to the United Nations Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG) Eurostat data sources: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/ (general) and http://unstats.un.org/unsd/cr/registry/regcst.asp?Cl=4.
(b) Adjusted to 2005/06 prices.
(b) EMCDDA estimations.
Source: National Annual report of the United Kingdom (2013).
Public order and safety 321 389 28.4 5 157 721 70.6 5 479 110 64.9
Social protection 11 657 1.0 1 887 182 25.8 1 898 839 22.5
Health 730 206 64.5 258 791 3.5 988 997 11.7
Education 1 049 0.1 NA 0.0 1 049 0.1
General public services 68 194 6.0 - 0.0 68 194 0.8
1 132 495
  7 303 694
  8 436 189
% of total expenditure c   13.4
% of GDP c   0.49
  0.42  0.49  
  • (1) L. Gordon, L. Tinsley, C. Godfrey and S. Parrott (2006), ‘The economic and social costs of Class A drug use in England and Wales, 2003/04’, in N. Singleton, R. Murray and L. Tinsley (eds), Measuring different aspects of problem drug use: methodological developments, Home Office Online Report, Home Office, London.
  • (2) H. Mills, S. Skodbo and P. Blyth (2013) Understanding organised crime: estimating the scale and the social and economic costs, Home Office, London.
  • (3) Some of the funds allocated by governments for expenditure on tasks related to drugs are identified as such in the budget (‘labelled’). Often, however, the bulk of drug-related expenditure is not identified (‘unlabelled’) and must be estimated by modelling approaches. The total budget is the sum of labelled and unlabelled drug-related expenditures.
  • (4) Public expenditure is classified according to purpose, using the Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG).



About the EMCDDA

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is the reference point on drugs and drug addiction information in Europe. Inaugurated in Lisbon in 1995, it is one of the EU's decentralised agencies. Read more >>

Contact us

Praça Europa 1, Cais do Sodré
1249-289 Lisbon
Tel. (351) 211 21 02 00
Fax (351) 218 13 17 11

More contact options >>

Page last updated: Thursday, 03 July 2014