Home > Uncategorized > Addiction is a health matter

Addiction is a health matter

On Thursday the Department of Work and Pensions issued a report stating that of the 1.6 million people on incapacity benefits, 80,000 are drugs addicts, alcoholics or obese.

This is not a matter of idleness but a matter of disease and squalor. In non-Beveridge language – it is not about employment but health and poverty.

The Five Giants that Beveridge identified in 1942 (Disease, Ignorance, Squalor, Want, Idleness) have become bigger and more prevalent in society over the past 30 years. It does not help that successive governments have misinterpreted the Five Giants, for example labelling the 80,000 drug addicts, alcoholics and obese people a problem of idleness rather than disease and/or squalor.

If people are on incapacity benefit, regardless of reason, it is because of a health problem. Why do people get health problems that restrict them from working? Poverty. There have been numerous studies in the link between low incomes and ill health. As living standards and the cost of living has increased, real wages for those at or near the bottom has fallen. Poverty is a real problem in the 21st Century. Not only does it adversely impact directly on the lives of the people who suffer from it, but it also adversely impacts the economy as ill health leads to incapacity and thus a removal from the labour force.

The ideal situation would be to get these people well, not demonise them, and then help them into work and improve living conditions. Poverty and ill health benefit no one, least of all those who it affects. However, this government’s approach is to reduce benefits thus making the problem worse.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Lee
    April 21, 2011 at 14:16

    It’s cheaper for the state to leave these people where they are. To deliver an individualised regime of treatment, education/training and opportunities would be very expensive.

    • Mr Oldfield
      April 21, 2011 at 14:41

      It’s will be cheaper in the long run to sort out their problems. To let things remain as they do means a burden on the state in terms of incapacity payments, other benefit payments, increasing costs of healthcare and a loss of tax revenues.

      • Lee
        April 21, 2011 at 14:45

        It depends on what you by the ‘long run’ though, who would have to pay for the additional costs involved and how it all fits in with the electoral cycle.

        Yes, I agree, these people are a burden on the state, but so are many people who are working though…it’s just that they don’t realise it.

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