A hot topic for dicussion in recent weeks has been the proposed overhaul to the Incapacity Benefit/Employment Support Allowance/Disability Living Allowance systems in the UK.
Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions suggest that 77,000 people in the UK are claiming these benefits because their dependancies render them unable to work.
With a bias towards supporting those affected by alcohol/drug dependancy, the relationship between addiction and benefits is something that the Society of St James feels strongly about. We recognise that benefits being available to those with addiction problems is potentially contentious, at the same time, we see this as absolutely necessary.
Our Chief Executive, Trevor Pickup, was recently quoted in our local news paper The Daily Echo, explaining why it was obvious that people who were unable to work would have to claim benefits.
“Otherwise, they would starve to death, which is not government policy. The fact that we have a lot of people on benefits who have drug and alcohol problems is a sign of problems with the drug and alcohol policies of this country, not of problems with the benefits system.”
Trevor added that addicts are not “exploiting” the benefits system because this was the mechanism put in place to support people unable to work.
Trevor’s comments reflect well the ethos of the organisation.
The battles that we face as as a charity, in the face of the types of comments left on the thread underneath the Echo article, are ongoing. All we can do is to continue to support those in our communities who are most vulnerable to homelessness, whatever the reason, and to make efforts to communicate that accordingly.