Does IDS get drunk before coming up with his laughable (though less than amusing) schemes? Probably not, but he does seem intent on showing why he was such a failure as Tory leader, with his unerring knack of attracting ridicule. His latest wheeze is to deny benefits to anyone that the Jobcentre staff suspect of being addicted to drink or drugs unless the claimant agrees to accept “help”. When I read that, it set off several alarm bells, including:
- On what basis will Jobcentre staff decide who is an addict?
- What “help” is available?
- Where will addicts turn to get their fix if money is withheld from them?
Jobcentre staff, whether face to face as now, or over the internet as planned, cannot demand that the claimant’s doctor, who is trained to make diagnoses, supply the confidential data regarding the claimant’s health, so such a decision would be made by somebody unqualified. I once knew somebody who had Parkinson’s Disease. Everyone assumed she was just a drunk, and that when they saw her shaking when she was wending her difficult way home, she was merely suffering from Delirium Tremors. Her doctor knew better, because that was his job. Given that Smith plans to make a speech about this subject at an event in parliament organised by Alcoholics Anonymous, it is likely that that organisation will feature prominently in his plans. Unfortunately, the AA’s record in “curing” alcoholism is patchy at best, with some studies suggesting that they make matters worse. There is also the matter of religion. One of AA’s 12 steps to recovery, non-negotiable, is the acknowledgement of a “higher power”, whether a named God, or a fuzzy, new-age one. It’s not hard to see why avowed Christian IDS favours them. It is hard to see how they can be involved in a compulsory, and therefore verifiable, process and keep the word anonymous in their name. And, of course, addiction, when denied satisfaction, can breed desperation, especially when that denial is from somebody other than the addict. More desperation (something this government evidently likes to encourage) will inevitably mean more crime. I expect there are plenty of venture capitalists queuing up to take advantage of the extra misery the Tories and their friends keep inflicting on people who can’t fight back.
- Iain Duncan Smith’s plan for ‘suspected’ alcoholics won’t work | John Sutherland (guardian.co.uk)
- Deep concerns over government plans to cut benefits for alcoholics and drug addicts who refuse treatment (independent.co.uk)
- Jobseekers who reject help for alcohol and drug addiction face benefits cut (guardian.co.uk)
- The Work Programme flounders (newstatesman.com
- Iain Duncan Smith – Is He Pissed? (johnnyvoid.wordpress.com)