Do benefit claims enable addiction?

A recent call has been made for a review and over haul of disability related benefits. Recent statistics released from the Department of Works and Pensions show an alarming number of individuals claiming benefits due to being “incapacitated” or “unfit for work” through alcohol and addiction related mental health and physical health problems.

Ian Duncan Smith, Secretary of Work and Pensions has promised a complete overhaul of the benefit Disability Living Allowance DLA, due to an estimated £630 million a year being paid out to undeserving cases. The general consensus is that claimants are continuing to claim benefits even when their condition has improved. This would suggest that the benefits are not being reviewed with individual cases on a regular enough basis.

Statistics released showed that at the end of 2011, DLA was being awarded to 34,410 claimants for drug and alcohol related problems, with a further 21,890 claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA)

Time for a review?

In my opinion, without regular reviews and improved monitoring of individual cases, it is impossible to gain an accurate reflection of how NHS drug and alcohol services are helping these people and how effective their treatment is. Also if claimants were engaging with treatment programs on the NHS, surely it would be far easier to monitor and track their progress to health. I think the reality would be that a review of the NHS services would then be called for.

The cost of Addiction

By my estimates claimants can claim up to £6814.00 a year in DLA alone, as well as other benefits such as housing, council tax, free prescriptions and health checks and treatment. This could bring the average claim up to around £13K a year, and possibly more. Surely looking at the bigger picture is required here?

My experience

As someone who has recovered from being incapacitated through addiction up to 4 years ago, and has benefited from inpatient private care treatment, I feel im one of the lucky ones. Having my addiction professionally treated and following with a maintenance plan has freed me from my addictions. Allowing me to work full time, take on responsibilities and pay my own bills. The cost of private care rehab, meant I had to borrow from my families hard earned cash to the tune of £8,000 for a 12 week inpatient treatment program and detox. I have since paid this back due to being able to earn a living once again. Not all families can resource this kind of money, but wouldn’t it be more cost effective for the government to fund more rehabilitation and detox programs for those who want it ?( rather than them sitting on benefits for many many years with little or no change to their condition). Tighter and more frequent reviews of DLA claimants would help minimize what could be classed as enabling. Just my view on this, and would be interested to hear yours.


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