Former drug users and alcoholics can make the best employees, Iain Duncan Smith will say on Tuesday, as he sets out plans to get more addicts off benefits and into work.
The Work and Pensions Secretary will outline new schemes dedicated to getting welfare claimants with drug and drink problems into employment.
Two pilot schemes under the Government’s Work Programme will see private contractors given cash bonuses for getting addicts into lasting employment.
Speaking to a conference of addiction experts and charities in London, Mr Duncan Smith will argue that rehabilitated addicts can make good employees.
Employers should not be put off by the “misconception” that employing people who have been through rehab is overly risky, the minister will say.
In fact, he will say, there is much evidence to suggest that recovered addicts can make for highly motivated, loyal and committed employees.
According to the Department for Work and Pensions, former addicts are often “all the more grateful for the opportunity to work because it offers them an opportunity to stay on the right track, whilst bringing tenacity, drive and dedication to the job.”
The department estimates that there are 400,000 ‘problem drug users’ on heroin or crack cocaine in Great Britain. Around 80 per cent of them, 320,000 in all, are on benefits, the DWP said.
The Work Programme sees private contractors paid for every benefits claimant they can place in employment or work experience.
New pilot schemes in West Yorkshire and the east of England will involve contractors being given extra bonus payments for working with claimants who are engaged in rehabilitation programmes.
Another scheme will test whether closer co-operation between Work Programme providers and rehabilitation treatment providers can deliver “better outcomes” for addicts, getting more of them into employment.
Official figures revealed last year that more than 77,000 people are receiving benefits because their addiction to alcohol or drugs renders them unable to work.
More than 20,000 of them are considered disabled because of their addiction and given benefits accordingly.
As well as working on schemes that could help addicts on benefits get into work, the Coalition is also looking at new rules on how they use their welfare money.
Some Conservative MPs say claimants should be paid welfare via electronic cash cards that could only be used to buy essentials like food, clothing, energy, travel and housing.
Mr Duncan Smith told Conservative activists last year that he is examining whether the law can be changed to specify how claimants spend their benefit money.
Mr Duncan Smith is understood to have instructed officials to look at card systems in place in Australia and some US states.
One idea discussed in Whitehall is for the 120,000 problem families who were identified in the Government’s riots review to be given the Oyster-style cards.
Advocates say card systems help claimants live responsibly and make proper use of welfare payments. Critics say the schemes demonise those who receive welfare.
Under the new Universal Credit welfare rules due to take effect this year, recipients will have to sign a new “claimant contract”, which could allow officials to cut benefits payments to people with drug or drink problems who refuse treatment.
By James Kirkup, Deputy Political Editor, 12th March 2013, Daily Telegraph.
Dear Drugs-Forum readers: We are a small non-profit that runs one of the most read drug information & addiction help websites in the world. We serve over 4 million readers per month, and have costs like all popular websites: servers, hosting, licenses and software. To protect our independence we do not run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations which average $25. If everyone reading this would donate $5 then this fund raiser would be done in an hour. If Drugs-Forum is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. Donations are currently not sufficient to pay our bills and keep the site up. Your help is most welcome. Thank you.
Ex drug users and alcoholics 'can make the best workers'