Related Posts

Share This

DrugScope, the national membership organisation representing the drug sector, has today responded to the release of figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) which show that 79,360 people who claim Incapacity Benefit (IB) have either a drug or alcohol dependency.


The DWP figures show that of the total number of IB claimants (2,082,570, figures from August 2010), 1.8 per cent (37,000) have a drug dependency and 2 per cent (42,360) an alcohol dependency. However, a drug or alcohol dependency alone would not make someone eligible to receive IB.


Martin Barnes, Chief Executive of DrugScope, said:


“Most people with a drug or alcohol dependency also have physical or mental health problems which can affect their ability to work. While a drug or alcohol dependency can be extremely debilitating, it does not of itself give an entitlement or ‘passport’ to benefit, which may be suggested by the publication of today’s figures. People with drug or alcohol problems must satisfy all the conditions for benefit entitlement, including proof of incapacity, and may be required to undergo a medical examination to determine eligibility.


“For many people with drug problems, employment can help support and sustain recovery from dependency. DrugScope supports the government’s commitment to help drug users into employment, as part of a broader recovery agenda. However, while people in drug treatment and recovery want to access training and employment, they can face formidable barriers, not least the stigma associated with drug or alcohol dependency.Research and experience shows that a majority of employers will not knowingly take on someone with a history of drug problems even if they are otherwise able to do the job (1).


“Despite the clear challenges of supporting people who have had drug or alcohol problems off benefit and into employment, it is unclear what specific, tailored support the government is providing, despite the clear ambition and commitment set out in the drug strategy. It has recently been confirmed that two support programmes for people with drug and alcohol problems are being discontinued, with no new referrals to the Progress to Work scheme after 1 June 2011 and no further funding for dedicated JobCentre drug coordinators. Both initiatives provided welcome and necessary tailored support for people with often multiple and complex problems associated with drug dependency. It is still unclear what specific support for this client group will be provided by the new Work Programme. DrugScope is also concerned that – despite publication of the Welfare Reform Bill – there has been no further information on the commitment in the drug strategy to support people to access drug or alcohol treatment by temporarily adjusting some benefit requirements.


“We are concerned, particularly in light of today’s publication of very specific and targeted benefit figures, that there appears to be a mismatch between, on the one hand, the Department for Work and Pensions’ pledge to support drug treatment and recovery and, on the other, what it is actually delivering as a department to support the ambitions in the drug strategy. In light of our concerns and those of our members working to support treatment and recovery, we would welcome assurance that there is a consistency of approach and ambition across government to support the drug strategy.”


The London Drug and Alcohol Network (LDAN), part of DrugScope, has been funded by Trust for London over four years to improve pathways to employment for people with drug and alcohol problems. This includes working overcome barriers such as employer stigma and to increase the number of education, training and employment opportunities available to this client group. Last year, the project published a guide for London drug and alcohol services on helping clients access employment support (2). The project also aims to develop an evidence base on what works in employment support for people with drug and alcohol problems and to influence policy and strategy in this area.


(1) Source: UKDPC 2009

(2) DrugScope employment report




Enhanced by Zemanta