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Benefits cut for alcoholics

15th April 2009

The government is looking at moves to dock benefits from alcoholics if they do not seek treatment for their condition.

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The idea is set to be carried out jointly by the Department of Health and the Department for Work and Pensions and follows measures that require drug addicts to get treatment in order to keep receiving benefits, which are currently going through parliament.

Minister James Purnell, who has has announced a review into the idea, said the government wanted to help people get the assistance they needed.

He explained that a new policy which will mean heroin and crack addicts get treatment in return for benefits was being introduced.

But he added: "We can't abandon anyone to long periods on benefits without help to overcome problems.

"So that's why we are going to look at the arrangements for alcoholics on benefits, just as we did for problem drug users, so that people get the help they need to get sober, to get their life back and get back to work."

Shadow work and pensions secretary Theresa May said this latest review was another move to deflect the focus from "Labour's failure to get to grips with our welfare system."

Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman Steve Webb dismissed the plans as New Labour posturing.

The drug and alcohol treatment charity Addaction said historically, help for people with alcohol problems was under-funded.

"We support measures to get treatment to the people who need it, but that treatment needs proper funding to be effective," said a spokesman.

 

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