In a sign of his increasingly bizarre and challenging behaviour IDS has decided that Jobcentre staff are qualified to judge whether someone drinks too much or takes drugs. He wants to give officials the power to force drug or alcohol users into treatment or have benefits sanctioned. Has the Secretary of State forgotten that his new Universal Credit system is designed to be digital by default? Does he expect Jobcentre staff to diagnose problem drinkers over an internet connection?
Just as importantly, is he even aware that many people need specialist medical support to detox from drugs or alcohol? That stopping drinking suddenly can kill a heavily dependent drinker? Or is he just blathering on about a subject he knows nothing about like the out of touch pub bore he is.
Once more IDS is dreaming up schemes that are completely unworkable in practice. According the The Guardian a DWP source has said that they can diagnose drug or alcohol dependency by the number of Crisis Loans a claimant takes out stating: “If you are applying for that up to 10 times a year then that is a sign of a chaotic life”.
Since according to the DWP themselves, no-one can claim more than three Crisis Loans a year and then only in exceptional circumstances, it appears this diagnostic criteria is pie in the sky. Once again DWP Officials don’t appear to know their own rules. And given that Crisis Loans are soon to be placed in the hands of Local Authorities as opposed to Jobcentre they seem similarly unaware of their own future policies.
Iain Duncan Smith will reveal his latest plans at a speech to Alcoholic Anonymous revealing worrying signs that he may be planning to send benefit claimants to get down with their ‘higher power’ at the notorious Christian cult. Alcoholics Anonymous may want to consider the impact of hordes of benefit claimants, many of whom will doubtless be still drinking, noising up their meetings.
Support services for people with drug or alcohol dependencies are being slashed across the country. If Iain Duncan Smith’s plans come to fruition, the end result will not be thousands of street drinkers or heroin users finding God and becoming good little citizens. It will simply further impoverish people who already have very little and are likely to be forced into crime, prostitution or begging as a result. You can’t bully people out of an addiction. Doctors, substance misuse charities and health professionals should intervene now before Iain Duncan’s Smith’s deluded rantings cause any further damage to society.