Review launched on whether obese people and those with drug and alcohol problems should have benefits cut

28 July 2015

The government have announced that a full-scale review will be completed by the end of the year on whether obese individuals and those with drug and alcohol problems should be prevented from receiving benefits unless they accept government-provided treatment.

The review will be lead by Dame Carol Black, Chair of the Nuffield Trust, who admitted that strong ethical issues are at stake, was initially limited to obese people when it was first considered in February 2015. It will now also cover the cost of drug dependency and alcoholism to society and taxpayers.

The potential savings from the policy option will be assessed by government statisticians, who will scrutinise the toll on the economy from such conditions for the first time. David Cameron has explained that this review will be a method of exploring the best way to decrease the number of people on sickness benefit by moving them into work.

Government figures show that there are around 90,000 people who claim sickness benefits whose illness is primarily due to their drug or alcohol addiction, which means that 25 per cent of alcoholics, and an estimated 80 per cent of heroin and crack users, claim benefits. Furthermore, 1,800 people are entitled to sickness benefits as a result of conditions primarily caused by obesity.

Black stated that “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.”

The full story can be found here. 

The government consulatation document can be found here, where you can also find more about submitting evidence.