Quit the Addiction or Lose Your Benefits
Drug and Drink Addicts To Be Told

23 May 2012

Iain Duncan Smith has said the new Universal Credit System will encourage addicts to become clean and find work

Drug addicts and alcoholics rendered unable to work by their condition will face active intervention in their lives to make them clean and employable, a Cabinet minister will say today.

Changes to the welfare system will be focus on getting those claiming benefits because of reliance on drink and drugs like heroin and crack cocaine into rehabilitation and ultimately the world of work, Iain Duncan Smith, Work and Pensions Secretary, will say.

In a speech to an event hosted by Alcoholics Anonymous, he will say the Welfare State has failed the almost 360,000 addicts who rely on benefits for their income.

He will argue at the event at the Houses of Parliament in London that his new Universal Credit system will encourage them to seek help and become employable again.

"The outdated benefits system fails to get people off drugs and put their lives on track," he will say.

"We have started changing how addicts are supported, but we must go further to actively take on the devastation that drugs and alcohol can cause.

"Under Universal Credit we want to do more to encourage and support claimants into rehabilitation for addiction and starting them on the road to recovery and eventually work.

"Getting people into work and encouraging independence is our ultimate goal. Universal Credit will put people on a journey towards a sustainable recovery so they are better placed to look for work in future and we will be outlining our plans shortly."

Statistics from the Department of Work and Pensions show that almost 40,000 people claim incapacity benefits with alcoholism as their primary diagnosis.

The DWP says 13,300 of these people have been claiming for at least 10 years. It also says that around 80% of Britain's estimated 400,000 "problem drug users", some 320,000 people are claiming out-of-work benefits.

Combating the effect of drink and drug addictions are the latest step in Mr Duncan Smith's controversial reform of the benefit system.

The Welfare Reform Act, which received royal assent in March, brought in the universal credit system and a 26,000-a-year household benefits.

The same month charity Save the Children claimed that a quarter of a million children will be pushed deeper into poverty by the overhaul of the benefits system because of a "blind spot" that would mean 150,000 working single mothers could lose up to 68 a week, or 3,500 a year.

Earlier this month Mr Duncan Smith revealed that half a million people are set to lose their disability benefits under plans that would slash the annual cost by 2.24 billion.

Around 500,000 people in the UK who receive disability living allowance (DLA) could no longer be eligible for the replacement personal independence payment (PIP) under the plans outlined in a DWP report.

Under the reforms, two million claimants would reassessed in the next four years and only those considered to be in need of support able to qualify.

After months of disruption, the capital's Leicester Square is being reopened tomorrow to show off its 15.3 million makeover.

The square is famous for its film premieres, but many were held at other cinemas across London while construction work took place over the past 17 months.

The mayor of London described the square as a "beacon for world premieres and stars of the silver screen".

He said: "This fantastic makeover is an integral part of the legacy that London 2012 will bring, helping to rid the square of the blight of anti-social behaviour and creating a must-see destination for the thousands of people who visit each day."

The new-look Leicester Square has 12,000 square metres of granite paving, stainless steel railings and a water feature that sends jets of recycled water two metres into the air around the Shakespeare statue. The square's trees have been fitted with uplighters to make visitors feel safe at night.

Robert Davis, deputy leader of Westminster City Council, said: "Leicester Square has long been an international destination for red-carpet film premieres, as well as a central meeting place for people visiting the West End's wealth of theatre, restaurants and bars.

"This ambitious regeneration project has breathed new life into the square and has given it a vibrant new feel which is more in keeping with its international reputation.

"Central London deserves a state-of-the-art cultural destination, particularly in this Olympic year, and we hope Londoners and visitors alike will be impressed with the results."

Mayor Boris Johnson will open the square tomorrow night, launching a five-day programme of events to celebrate the renovation.

London Evening Standard

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