Addicts in the UK May Soon Be Cut Off Welfare

Posted on 8/21/2010 by meg

As part of their efforts aimed at reducing the whopping £20billion benefits bills, the UK Government is examining the idea of a “financial benefit sanction” for applicants that fail to pursue treatment for their addiction.

The strategy is intended to push addicts into recovery and back into the workforce and off welfare. However, besides the fact that this violates human rights, Simon Antrobus, from the drug treatment charity Addaction, cautions against such actions:
“Remove financial stability during that time and you can severely damage someone’s chances of beating an addiction. More likely, you could increase their chances of turning to crime to find an alternative income.”
Indeed society will find the idea attractive because it supports recovery and getting lives back in order. Who wouldn’t find that appealing when addiction destroys lives, families and societies all over the world? And, of course, in many cases it costs taxpayers a lot of money. In spite of this, society should be asking itself if this is really the best option for improving lives, the economy and society as a whole.

Undoubtedly many users are already funding their habit by committing crimes, but taking away the pittance they may receive from social assistance will probably lead to an increase in criminal activity.

Moreover, removing social benefits will likely increase homelessness, thereby raising the rate of unemployment. That being said, perhaps the UK government should take a closer look at employment programs geared toward welfare recipients. This might actually encourage them to seek recovery and aspire to get off the system on their own.

Of course, job readiness will not be instantaneous, but as part of the recovery process, employment might actually help addicts to feel included and less marginalized in society, which can be an important component in maintaining sobriety.

It seems the UK has not completely thought this through as many questions are left unanswered. For instance, one is left wondering what criteria will be used to label recipients as addicts and who will label them.

In my opinion, the cost savings will be short-lived. What is yours?

Should addicts be allowed to receive welfare?

Addicts refusing treatment may have benefits stopped


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