Obese people ‘could lose benefits if they turn down treatment’

29 Jul 15

People who suffer from obesity or substance abuse problems could see their benefits cut if they fail to accept appropriate treatment, the government has warned today.

The Department for Work and Pensions today launched a review with a call for evidence on how best to support benefit claimants with drink and drug addictions and potentially treatable conditions back into work.

The review, led by DWP health advisor Carol Black, will be completed before the end of the year and will examine the cost to taxpayers and the economy of “preventable” conditions such as obesity and addiction.

It will advice the government on how best to get more people off sickness benefits and into work, as well as considering which groups are most at risk of not being able to work and what support should be available to them, where ministers say not enough help is being provided.

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

Announcing the review, Prime Minister David Cameron promised that “support and treatment” would be made available to those with drug or alcohol problems, or obesity, “giving everyone the opportunity to improve their lives”.

“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,” Cameron said.

“Over the next 5 years I want to see many more people coming off of sick benefit and into work.”

Black said substance abuse and extreme obesity could have a 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,” he said.

“I am looking forward to discussing these issues with as many people as possible with an interest in this area.”

  • Judith Ugwumadu

    Judith Ugwumadu joined Public Finance International and Public Finance online as a reporter after stints at Financial Adviser, Global Security Finance and The Sunday Express. Currently, she writes about public finance, public services and economics.

    Follow her on @JudithUgwumadu_

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