Drug and alcohol charities have reacted with fury to Iain Duncan Smith’s latest back of the envelope scheme to bully people dependent on drugs or alcohol off benefits. IDS plans to use Jobcentre workers to assess (over a computer) whether someone has a drug and alcohol dependency and then send them to a non-existent treatment centre or face having benefits stopped.
Like Universal Credit, another of the Secretary of State’s crazy schemes, this won’t work and will no doubt unravel in it’s implementation – if it is ever actually implemented at all.
Speaking in the Guardian yesterday, Simon Antrobus, the chief executive of Addaction , one of the largest specialist drug and alcohol treatment charities, condemned the plans saying:
“Those that Addaction help on a daily basis will tell you how coming off drugs or alcohol is extremely difficult, and how deciding to access treatment took them a very long time. Remove financial stability during that time, and you can severely damage someone’s chances of beating an addiction and recovering.
“The jobcentre could prove to be an excellent referral to that kind of support, without resorting to measures that could only add to a person’s problems.”
These are fine words and it’s about time that charities tasked with dealing with some of the poorest and most vulnerable in society finally spoke up for their users. Unfortunately it also reveals Addaction to be breath-taking hypocrites.
Addaction are one of the sub-contractors on the Government’s Work Programme which is currently failing miserably at getting the long term unemployed into work. Addaction have been brought in to work with those with drug or alcohol dependencies and seem very proud of their involvement.
After a love in at last year’s Tory Party Conference where Addaction hosted a fringe event, the charity said on their website:
“That’s why we need to show primary contractors in the Work Programme that organisations like Addaction are very much part of the solution.”
Drug and alcohol users who are referred to Work Programme face benefit sanctions for non-attendance. They can be mandated to do almost anything, including attend treatment or counselling for substance misuse. Both unemployed people and most of those on sickness and disability benefits are subject to this regime. If the claimant fails to turn up it is Addaction’s contractual duty to raise a ‘compliance doubt’ with the prime contractors who will then process a benefit sanction. Addaction are as complicit in sanctioning those with drug and alcohol problems as any Jobcentre worker will be should Iain Duncan’s Smith latest plans come to fruition.
Perhaps Addaction only object to benefit sanctions for those with drug and alcohol problems when they aren’t making a buck out of it.
Above cartoon from: http://www.crippencartoons.co.uk/