Press release

Publication of DWP research report no. 640:Problem drug users’ experiences of employment and the benefit system

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Experiences of problem drug users in relation to claiming benefit, looking for and being in employment, and dealing with Jobcentre Plus.

Today, the Department for Work and Pensions published the findings from research exploring the experiences of problem drug users (PDUs) in relation to claiming benefit, looking for and being in employment, and dealing with Jobcentre Plus.  The research involves two components: an international literature review, and in-depth interviews with drug users and professionals working in the field of drug misuse.

The research was carried out on behalf of the Department by researchers from the Universities of Bath and Glasgow. Fieldwork was conducted in February 2009.

The main findings are:

  • Overall the research found that PDUs form an extremely marginalised group who face significant and multiple disadvantage in the labour market.
  • Interviewees commonly had a long history of drug misuse; most were using multiple drugs as well as alcohol.
  • All had some experience of substance misuse treatment and for the majority this was not their first time in treatment.
  • Interviewees often had multiple problems in addition to their drug use - most commonly in the areas of housing, mental and physical health, and skills and education.
  • Most interviewees were on benefits and only a few were in employment. However, barriers to claiming benefit included lack of knowledge and advice, difficulties filling in forms and attending appointments, and the feeling that PDUs are stigmatised by Jobcentre Plus staff.
  • Barriers to employment included lack of self-confidence, mental and physical health problems, a criminal record, lack of skills and qualifications, ongoing drug use, treatment programmes and employer discrimination.
  • The professionals interviewed cited drug treatment, advocacy, access to training, voluntary work and supportive employers as key facilitators to employment

Notes to editors

  1. DWP Research Report No 640 - Problem drug users’ experiences of employment and the benefit system - is published on 17th June 2010 by Corporate Document Services. The research was conducted on behalf of DWP by Linda Bauld at the University of Bath, and Gordon Hay, Jennifer McKell and Colin Carroll at the University of Glasgow.
  2. Free summaries are available from Paul Noakes at the DWP (Caxton House, 6-12 Tothill Street, London SW1H 9NA). The reports and summaries are available free on the DWP website http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/rports2009-2010/rrep640.pdf
  3. 85 qualitative interviews were conducted in total: 75 with drug users, and 10 with professionals working in the field of drug misuse.