The U.K. government is seeking to cost out the amount spent on treating obese people, drug addicts and alcoholics. One of the measures being considered is to reduce state support for people who fall within these groupings.
Turning the concept of universal welfare on its head, David Cameron has a plan to reduce welfare payments for people who are above a certain weight or who have been identified as drug abusers or who are apparent alcoholics. This is because, the Conservative Party reasoning goes, that people so categorised as fat, drug takers or heavy drinkers, are unlikely to be in a position to secure employment. If the philosophy of welfare payments is to temporarily support people who have become unemployed in their quest to secure employment, then people who have fallen on very hard times and have entered a cycle of addiction need an incentive to overcome their problems.
These incentives are set to be monetary. Ignoring the counter-argument about penalising those who need help the most and also statistics that align drug abuse with crime (and the possibility that those with less money but who are addicts will need to turn to crime more frequently), the Conservative government appear set to press ahead with the reforms.
According to The Daily Telegraph, obese people could have welfare payments, which stand at around £100 ($150) per week reduced or even stopped completely if the people assessed by the state as overweight refuse or are unsuccessful in shedding pounds.
In addition, there are an estimated 90,000 people who are in receipt of sickness incapacity benefit where the reason for the sickness is linked to drug addiction. The government is drawing up plans to halt payments to addicts as well.
At the same time as proposing to restrict welfare, the government is attempting to produce meaningful statistics on the cost of obesity and drug addiction to the health service. Some figures put the cost of obesity at £5 billion ($8 billion); others argue that these costs are an underestimate.
In a government statement, Prime Minister Cameron declared: “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.”
This approach places the blame for obesity, drug addiction and alcoholism firmly at the door of the individual. However, according to The Guardian, there are many reasons for obesity, several of which are not ‘self-inflicted’. There are also a range of health conditions: “Being overweight is associated with increases in the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, several types of cancers, and musculoskeletal conditions, and is also associated with poor mental health in adults, and stigma and bullying in childhood.”
By Tim Sandle - Digital Journal/Aug. 6, 2015
Photo: Edward Munoz, Reuters
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