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Obese could lose benefits if they refuse treatment

People who do work because they are obese or have alcohol or drug problems could have their benefits cut if they refuse treatment.

Obese could lose benefits if they refuse treatment David Cameron has launched a review of the current benefits system, which he says fails to encourage people with long term, treatable issues to get medical help.

Some 100,000 people with such conditions claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the government says.

There is currently no requirement for people with alcohol, drug or weight-related health problems to undertake treatment.

Mr Cameron has asked Prof Dame Carol Black-  an adviser to the Department of Health, to look at whether it would be appropriate to withhold benefits from those who are unwilling to accept help.

Announcing the proposal, he said: “Some people have drug or alcohol problems, but refuse treatment. In other cases people have problems with their weight that could be addressed – but instead a life on benefits rather than work becomes the choice.”

“It is not fair to ask hardworking taxpayers to fund the benefits of people who refuse to accept the support and treatment that could help them get back to a life of work.”

David Cameron sees the wide-ranging welfare reforms introduced in this Parliament as part of a “moral mission”. He has said they give new hope to people who have been written off by helping them back to work.

Similar proposals have been considered by the government before- in 2010 and 2012 the Conservatives considered plans to remove or cut benefits for drug and alcohol addicts who refused treatment.

At the time the plans were met with concern by charities, who said there was no evidence benefit sanctions would help addicts engage with treatment.

Disabilities Minister Mark Harper said people who were overweight or had alcohol or drug problems needed treatment to get back to work

ESA was introduced in 2008 to replace incapacity benefit and income support, paid because of an illness or disability. It requires claimants to undertake a work capability assessment to see how much their illness or disability affects their ability to work.

Once a claim is accepted, those receiving ESA get up to £108.15 a week. Some 60% of the 2.5 million people claiming ESA have been doing so for more than five years, government figures show.

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