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Jobseekers Allowance

Volume 480: debated on Monday 6 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what assistance is available to a person claiming jobseekers allowance with (a) a mental health condition and (b) a drug or alcohol addiction; (203270)

(2) what assessment he has made of (a) the availability and (b) the ability actively to seek work of jobseekers allowance claimants who have (i) a mental health condition and (ii) an alcohol or drug addiction;

(3) what mandatory requirements there are for a person with (a) a drug addiction or (b) an alcohol addiction claiming jobseekers allowance to seek treatment as a condition of receiving benefit;

(4) what mandatory treatment programmes there were for a person with (a) a drug addiction or (b) an alcohol addiction claiming jobseeker’s allowance.

A person must be available for and actively seeking work in order to be eligible for jobseeker’s allowance. A person can restrict his or her availability for work on grounds of a medical condition. This restriction could, for example, relate to the type of work or the hours they are available, but active search for employment must continue. When, as the result of a health problem, someone cannot meet these conditions, their claim for jobseeker’s allowance cannot continue and he or she would normally claim incapacity benefit instead, or other benefits appropriate to their individual circumstances.

Jobcentre Plus Disability Employment Advisers work with customers who need more extensive support because of their health condition. They can offer help in finding work and advise customers about a range of specialised support available such as Workstep, Work preparation and Residential Training colleges and Access to Work.

Jobseeker’s allowance customers with a history of drug and alcohol misuse can volunteer for early access to the new deal gateway in order to take advantage of the more intensive support on offer. Under the flexible new deal, which will replace the mandatory new deals from October 2009, service providers can decide to offer condition management programmes as part of the tailored back to work action plans drawn up for longer term jobseeker’s allowance customers.

We do not currently require drug or alcohol abusers to seek treatment as a condition of receiving benefit.

In our Welfare Reform Green Paper “No-one written off: reforming welfare to reward responsibility” (column 7363) we announced that we will explore the case for introducing a new regime for problem drug users which provides more tailored and personalised support than is currently provided by the existing incapacity benefit or jobseeker’s allowance regimes. In return for benefit payments, claimants will have a responsibility to move successfully through treatment and into employment.

Currently people with a drug addiction have access to support through the “progress2work” initiative which is a national programme for those on any working-age benefit recovering from drugs misuse. Participants are helped with the range of their problems, such as debt, housing or family breakdown. For alcohol misusers we offer “progress2work linkup” in about half of Jobcentre Plus districts.