More heroin and crack users are dying of overdoses in the areas of England where cuts to drug treatment budgets have been among the greatest, analysis by the Observer shows.

The findings have prompted concern that addicts are at greater risk of dying due to funding cuts to the public health grant received by local councils. Over the past four years councils in 85% of areas that have an above average drug mortality rate have reduced the amount they spend on drug treatment, a comparison of drug fatalities and spending on addiction services shows.

Ten of the 30 councils that have cut spending the most since 2013 have some of the highest numbers of drug deaths, while a further 10 had higher than average drug mortality rates. The treatment budget in Blackpool, which has consistently been the worst area in England for drug deaths, will have more than halved by 2018, a cut of £2.5m.

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