Press release

Government to increase support for benefit claimants with addictions and treatable conditions

Review launched into supporting benefit claimants with addictions and potentially treatable conditions back into work.


Professor Dame Carol Black has started a review into how best to support benefit claimants with addictions and potentially treatable conditions back into work.

The government believes that not enough is being done to ensure people get help for long-term, potentially treatable issues even though it may be the primary reason for being out of work.

A manifesto commitment said that the government would review the current system and Dame Carol Black will now start an investigation into the issue.

The review will consider the case for linking benefit entitlements to accepting appropriate treatment or support.

Professor Dame Carol Black, an expert adviser on health and work, will lead the independent review which will for the first time:

  • assess cost to taxpayers and the economy of worklessness resulting from obesity and addictions to drugs and alcohol
  • assess the role factors such as these may be playing in causing or perpetuating worklessness
  • explore the support provided by the existing benefit system and the incentives/barriers created, identify groups most at risk, and assess how government, employers and others can support people back in to work
  • assess the availability and cost-effectiveness of treatments and investigate work done internationally to ensure that benefit claimants get the help they need to get back to work

Dame Carol has published a call for evidence today and will be consulting widely with experts and interested groups ahead of providing recommendations to government.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, said:

Our one nation approach is about giving everyone the opportunity to improve their lives and for some that means dealing with those underlying health issues first and foremost.

Whether it is drug or alcohol problems, or preventable conditions in terms of obesity, support and treatment will be there for you.

And we must look at what we do when people simply say no thanks and refuse that help but expect taxpayers to carry on funding their benefits.

Over the next 5 years I want to see many more people coming off of sick benefit and into work and Carol Black will report back to me on how best to achieve that.

Professor Dame Carol Black said:

Addiction to drugs and alcohol, and in some cases extreme obesity, can have a profoundly damaging impact on people’s chances of taking up meaningful employment.

By reviewing the support that is available here and abroad to people with these conditions, it is my hope that we can present a thorough analysis of the options available to government. I am looking forward to discussing these issues with as many people as possible with an interest in this area.

Dame Carol’s review will involve consulting with a wide range of health and addiction experts, who will be invited to provide evidence for the review.

To support her work across government, the Department for Work and Pensions will set up a steering group with representatives from the Department for Health, Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and other groups from the criminal justice system.

Call for evidence

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Published 29 July 2015