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City in top ten nationally for number of claimants with addictions
Bradford’s drug addicts and alcoholics are collectively being paid disability benefits of up to £131,800 a week or £6.8 million a year – with the district ranking in the top ten nationally for the highest number of such claimants.
The total includes people on Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance who cite the primary reason for claiming the benefit is alcoholism or drug problems Also included are payments for people claiming the lowest level of one of the two Disability Living allowance components at £20.55 a week.
The actual weekly total for Bradford could be up to £24,000 higher depending on what level and components of DLA each of the 220 claimants qualify for.
A breakdown shows there are 370 people claiming incapacity benefit paid at £99.15 after 12 months for alcohol dependency, ranking it the ninth worst area in the country – and 490 for drugs – the sixth worst.
For Employment and Support Allowance, which is paid at £99.15 to £105.05 weekly, there were 100 alcoholics ranking Bradford ninth and 30 claimants dependent on drugs, placing Bradford seventh.
Jon Royle, chief executive of Bradford’s Bridge Project, which runs rehabilitation courses, said: “It does not surprise me as we have a fairly significant problem.
“We know that someone presenting with a dependency has a big problem getting a job. The first thing we have to do is identify them and refer them to treatment. These mechanisms are in place and it is an important focus.
“We tend to find when people are in recovery they are potentially a liability for an employer but when they stop using drugs and alcohol they can be very motivated people and good employees.
“But there is a huge barrier for employment as there is a stigma. If someone gets an interview and then mentions they had a problem that tends to be the end. The people are battling multiple layers to employment.
“There are also no jobs, which might distort the figures. We may have one of the highest number of claimants but we also have high levels of deprivation and unemployment. We would expect to see that correlation.”
Nina Smith, Bradford Council’s programme lead, alcohol and drugs, said it was forecast that a change in the district’s treatment programmes would reduce the figures in future.
“Our local treatment services have been restructured and are now focused on recovery, with the intentions of enabling drug and alcohol misusers to become abstinent,” she said. “We therefore anticipate that the number of alcohol and drug misusers on incapacity and other benefits will gradually reduce through helping people recover their health and dignity and becoming employable.”
Employment minister Chris Grayling said the statistics showed why drastic action was needed by the Government.
He said: “The reassessment of 1.5 million people on incapacity benefit and the work capability assessment we use means we can take account of conditions that change over time.
“These figures show the scale of the problem and the ludicrous situation that used to exist and why we are right to reform the system.”