Tory plans to cut benefits to obese, alcoholic and addicted

Iain duncan smith

Outrage as UK government consults on cutting benefits for "self-inflicted" conditions and illnesses

30th July 2015 by Robert Armour 4 Comments

Scots struggling from addictions, alcoholism and obesity could have their benefits stopped under draconian proposals put forward by the Tories.

A consultation paper ordered by Conservative work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith is to look at how people with so called self-inflicted barriers to employment, such as obesity, can be coaxed into work.

One proposal would be to halt their benefits if they refused to get treatment for their condition or addiction.

The consultation was originally limited to obese people when it was first announced last February, but is being expanded to include the cost of drug dependency and alcoholism to society and taxpayers.

While the move could hit more than 100,000 people across the UK, 5,710 claimants in Scotland receive employment and support allowance (which replaced incapacity benefit) who have drug problems, while 9,230 have problems with alcohol.

No separate figures are available on obesity.

The policy is a distraction from the real crisis facing this country - John Dickie

The UK government said the aim of the review was consider how best to support those suffering from long-term yet treatable conditions back into work but anti-poverty campaigners have hit out saying such a move could only be punitive.  

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: “The primary aim of the welfare system should be to enhance dignity for all, so that every citizen may live life in all its fullness.

“We would urge all consideration of welfare policy to be characterised by the principles of fairness and compassion and for the government to involve in decision making those who will be affected by its policy proposals as well as experts in the field.”

John Dickie, director of Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, warned that the move would be counter-productive.

“Far from saving the public money, this policy is likely to aggravate mental health problems and ratchet up the pressure on devolved services such as the health, housing and mental health services,” he said.

“People should be encouraged to access the help they need but this should not become a condition of their access to basic financial support. The policy is a distraction from the real crisis facing this country.”

Dame Carol Black, who has been made responsible for taking forward the consultation, admitted ethical issues were at stake, but also questioned whether such people should continue to receive benefits if they refuse government-provided treatment.

She said: “Addiction to drugs and alcohol, and in some cases extreme obesity, can have a profoundly damaging impact on people’s chances of taking up meaningful employment.”

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31st July 2015 by Jonathan Roberts

I would urge everyone who is concerned about this issue to respond to the call for evidence, available at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/drug-and-alcohol-addiction-and-obesity-effects-on-employment-outcomes-independent-review. The deadline is 11 September.

31st July 2015 by Andrew

A government with no heart! I am apparently obese by doctor's reckoning. I have asked for help. "eat less and exercise more!" I am told. I DO eat healthily, I exercise, I swim. I know my obesity stems from gross amounts of insulin, side effects of depressive medication. I do not claim anything from the state - but if I were to, who is responsible for my obesity?

31st July 2015 by Hetty

Far right wing policy. It's getting very dangerous indeed. Brrrrr.

31st July 2015 by Hetty

Massive ethical concerns here. How many tory MP's are hugely overweight and are addicted to drugs and alcohol!The real worry is what exactly do they mean by 'treatment'.I read a while ago that those suffering from depression are being coerced(?) into taking anti depressants and other treatments in order to access basic living via social security. The drugs companies will be delighted with this new attempt to force people to take medication etc. Very chilling indeed.