Scottish ministers are facing calls to fund more drug rehab beds as record numbers of people are dying from their addiction.
Since 2007, the amount of beds offered to recovering drug addicts has dropped from 352 at 22 rehab centres to 70.
The Scottish Conservatives have called for Finance Secretary Derek Mackay to include £15.4 million in his budget for a national drug rehab fund that would restore the number to beds to 2007 levels.
Drug-related fatalities in Scotland rose to 1,187 in 2018, up 27% in a year – the highest rate in Europe.
Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said Scotland will get the highest block grant in a decade in the next UK budget. “There can be no justification for additional tax rises, or further cuts to public spending, against this backdrop,” he said.
A Scottish Conservative source said: “There is no doubt the reduction in funded rehab beds is major factor in the rising number of drugs deaths.”
Derek Mackay will unveil his draft Budget on February 6.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are speaking to all opposition parties ahead of the budget – and there is an onus on every party to act responsibly given the UK Tory government’s disgraceful delay to their own budget, which has completely ignored Scotland and the urgent need for certainty in public service funding.
“The Tories at Holyrood are keen to suggest where more money could be spent, but fail to say what they would cut – and their spending suggestions in previous years would have seen tax cuts for the wealthiest while depriving our NHS and other key services of more than half a billion pounds a year.”
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