100,000 alcoholics claim allowances

Thursday, 12 October, 2006

More than 100,000 drug addicts and alcoholics are being paid incapacity benefit every week, it has been reported.

The Daily Telegraph states the number of people claiming they cannot work and are receiving benefits because of drug abuse and alcoholism has doubled in nine years.

It says claimants are paid £78.50 a week, roughly £20 more than they would get on Jobseekers' Allowance.

Government figures show 48,960 people were on incapacity benefit and severe disablement allowance because the "primary diagnosis" was that they were alcoholics, compared to 27,100 in 1997.

A further 48,530 claimants receive the weekly payments because their primary diagnosis is drug abuse. Nine years ago this figure was 21,900.

The figures were uncovered by Shadow Work and Pensions Minister David Ruffley MP through parliamentary questions.

He told the Telegraph: "These latest figures show that those trapped in dependency are not getting the support they need. This is not good for those who want to get off welfare and into work; nor is it good for the taxpayer."

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "For the first time the number of people claiming incapacity benefit is falling and this is due to the pilots and new approaches that have been adopted over recent years such as Pathways to Work.

"We are building on schemes such as those in order to help lift one million people off benefits and into work. However, this figure illustrates why we are bringing forward changes to the benefits system through the Welfare Reform Bill.

"The focus of the Employment and Support allowance will be about the work individuals can do rather than their eligibility for receiving a benefit."