Drug misusers who refuse help to lose benefits

    Drug misusers will be docked their benefits if they fail to follow treatment programmes and reintegrate into the workforce, the government announced today in its drug strategy for 2008-11.

    The government said this policy would support reintegration and the personalisation agenda by making drug users responsible for their actions and setting incentives for finding treatment, training and employment.

    It is also looking into creating a “new regime” for drug misusers, which will provide tailored support to help claimants beat dependence and socially reintegrate. This would replace jobseekers allowance and incapacity benefit regimes.

    Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: “We do not think it is right for the taxpayer to help sustain drug habits when individuals could be getting treatment to overcome barriers to employment.”

    Health and crime costs

    But Turning Point, the alcohol and drug misuse organisation, said this policy could have “unforeseen problems”, such as higher health and crime costs. 

    Harry Walker, Turning Point’s spokesperson on drug policy, said: “We would want to see clear evidence from pilot programmes that such a policy would keep people in treatment and would not lead to problems becoming more intractable.”

    Under these measures, drug users who claim out-of-work benefits will be required to see a specialist treatment provider alongside a jobseeker direction or work-focused interview.

    It is hoped this policy will support Jobcentre Plus to work closer with local drug partnerships and drug treatment providers.

    The 10-year strategy, Drugs: protecting families and communities, outlines a number of other measures to tackle drug supply and demand, and sets out how the government will protect families and strengthen communities.

    More information

    Drugs: protecting families and communities

    Turning Point

    Related items

    Essential information on Substance misuse

    The Bigger Picture on the Drugs Bill

    Also read Drug Strategy and the Boot-boy Effect   

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