Drug addicts on incapacity benefit up 12 per cent in four years

The number of people on incapacity benefit due to drug addiction has increased by more than 12 per cent in the last four years, figures show.

More than 50,000 addicts on state handouts cite drugs as the reason they cannot work, costing the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds a year.

A study earlier this year estimated the average drug addict costs the country more than £800,000 over the course of their lifetime.

The lBOUR Government has also vowed to get tough on addicts and make them seek treatment if they want to continue receiving handouts.

But the latest figures, slipped out to MPs, show the problem is still growing.

Shadow Home Secretary, Dominic Grieve, said: “This is another example of how Labour has become broken under Britain. Labour are abandoning too many people to a life of misery on drugs.

“Another consequence is extra burden on the benefit bill at a time of economic hardship. We would expand abstinence-based rehabilitation so that we starting ending, not managing, addiction.”

Statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions showed that as of February 51,300 people were on incapacity benefit who had cited drug abuse as the main reason for not being able to work.

It is estimated they cost around £38 million a year but the true cost to the public purse will be much higher.

More than 40,000 of them are in receipt of incapacity benefit credits – where the Government effectively tops up the contribution to national insurance that they would have been paying if working.

The total is up almost 13 per cent on the 45,510 who were on incapacity for similar reasons in 2004 and the numbers have grown steadily each year.

In July, the Government announced plans to make heroin and crack cocaine addicts declare their problem and agree to treatment if they are to continue receiving benefits.

A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, this year, commissioned by the Ministry of Justice, also estimated a drug addict costs the public £833,000 over their lifetime, including the burden on . health services, the criminal justice system, loss of earnings and productivity and the cost of putting any children into care.

In reply to the written parliamentary answer to the Conservatives, Employment Minister Tony McNulty said: “Drug dependency does not of itself confer entitlement to incapacity benefits.

“The medical assessment of incapacity for work is the Personal Capability Assessment. This assesses the effects of a person’s condition on their ability to carry out a number of everyday activities relevant to work.”

“A majority of people with a recorded diagnosis of drug dependency also have other diagnoses, for example mental illness, which results in their incapacity to work.”


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