HEROIN addicts in Hampshire will help decide how public cash is spent on treating their addiction, the Daily Echo can reveal.

In the first trial of its kind in the UK, addicts will have some control over how hundreds of pounds of taxpayers’ money is spent on them each week.

An anti-tax campaign group last night warned there must be tight controls on how the money is spent.

And there have also been fears that some victims of crime may find the scheme “outrageous”.

Hampshire health bosses insisted the addicts would not have direct access to the cash and would not be able to prescribe themselves the heroin replacement methadone.

Project co-ordinator Lorraine Lambert said users were being encouraged to look at non-traditional forms of treatment to help them get clean.

Cash could be spent on life coaches, parenting courses, drama or art classes and complimentary therapies such as acupuncture.

“We already have one person who wants to pursue further education to help them develop new life She added: “It’s highly unlikely a holiday or camping trip to the New Forest could be considered part of their treatment. If that is what they want, then they’ll have to pay for it themselves.”

Mrs Lambert claimed tailoring care to suit an individual’s preferences could actually save taxpayers’ money in the long run.

“The most expensive form of treatment is when it does not work and they have to keep coming back. Evidence suggest that the more people have ownership of their treatment, the higher the rate of success.”

Hampshire Partnership Trust service manager Sandra Jerrim said the service would not be open to abuse as the cash would be handled by a broker or care worker – and not the addict.

The £120,000 project, revealed at the start of National Tackling Drugs Week, is one of seven different National Treatment Agency (NTA) funded pilots.

A spokesman for Victim Support said some people affected by drug-related crime would find it morally wrong.

He added: “Some would say this new scheme is absolutely outrageous and drug-users should be locked up. Others would say at least something is being done.”

The idea was cautiously welcomed by public spending watchdog, the Taxpayers’ Alliance Spokesman Matthew Sinclair said: “The concept of personal budgets we would support, even in cases of heroin addiction, as it gives people a certain sense of control over their treatments. There must not be any risk of taxpayers’ money subsiding addiction.”