“SEEK TREATMENT OR LOSE BENEFITS”
DEADLINE 22 OCTOBER 2008
Here’s a common-sense idea – but the issue, as always, will be how it is implemented, and whether those in charge will prioritise clinical effectiveness and clinical cost-effectiveness over political expediency… A welfare-reform green paper – No one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility – proposes that unemployed problem drug users get treatment or risk losing their benefits.
“Taxpayers cannot be expected to support a drug-dependent lifestyle, so where drug treatment is available and considered appropriate, there should be an obligation that individuals take it up,” the bill states.
Information would be shared between job centres, police, prisons and probation services. Drug users on benefits would be required to see a specialist employment adviser and draw up a “rehabilitation plan” with them. Benefit rules might also require applicants to declare if they are “addicted” (how will they diagnose?) to heroin or crack cocaine with sanctions such as recovering overpayments or fraud investigations if they mislead. Honesty could lead claimants to receive ‘treatment allowances’ while they stabilise their condition – how will this work in practice?
Drug coordinators could be appointed to JobCentre Plus by the end of 2009 – another question is how they will be recruited and clinically trained, and what powers they might have.
We urge readers to give their views – after all, these are your potential clients, perhaps even employees – before the deadline of 22 October.
All details can be found here.