Council chiefs have set aside £75,000 to help tackle drug and alcohol misuse in York.

Cllr Jo Coles, the council's executive member for health, approved using funds from the public health reserve on Wednesday, November 15.

York in Recovery, a peer-led charity working with those in recovery to maintain abstinence-based social and community participation, will receive £50,000 from the fund.

The remaining £25,000 will fund the alcohol care team at York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust.

Ruth Hine, public health specialist practitioner at the council, said: “Both of these are investments that are in line with what we’ve been looking at through our York drug and alcohol partnership and the council priorities.

“It just gives that additional support for individuals with substance use disorders and helps the health inequalities across the city.”

York Press: Cllr Jo ColesCllr Jo Coles

Cllr Coles: “It’s just some examples of the incredibly important work going on across the city, without which health inequalities are going to grow.”

The Liberal Democrat opposition group has supported the move while taking credit for it and criticising Labour for doing so “belatedly".


Cllr Carol Runciman, the York Liberal Democrat spokesperson for health, said: “It’s positive to see that the Liberal Democrat initiative of dealing with issues related to drug and alcohol misuse is belatedly being taken forward.

“It’s just a pity that Labour has wasted six months before performing this U-turn.

“Liberal Democrats originally secured this funding in February as we understand the impact that addiction can have on lives, families, and communities.

“We also understand that you need to tackle these issues at source before they develop into more protracted and costly problems.”

The Liberal Democrats have urged Labour to also use reserves to fund youth support workers in the city, but the council is currently cutting back on spending to balance its books, as it needs to do each year by law.

Debbie Mitchell, the council’s chief financial officer, previously explained that increased spending from reserves led to the council’s predicted £11.4 million overspend.

“If you look at our last three years, for example, we overspent by just under £5 million last year and that was funded by contingencies and other one-off reserves,” Ms Mitchell said.

Labour has been in administration since May, following the Liberal Democrat and Green Party coalition between 2019 and 2023.

Ms Mitchell added: “We overspent by £2.5 million the year before and we overspent by £1.3 million the year before that.

“So you can see it’s gradually been getting to a position where the overspend has been increasing.

“So now we’re at a position where we’ve used spare money, one-off money.”