Hundreds claim benefits because of booze

Alcohol feature - Worksop Guardian.
Alcohol feature - Worksop Guardian.
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Hundreds of people in Doncaster are claiming disability benefits because they drink too much alcohol.

A total of 240 people in the borough claimed one of several forms of disability benefit – and cited alcohol misuse as the main reason, according to Government figures.

The figures represent one claimant in 61 in the borough.

The revelation comes after it was revealed that one man had been given extra cash by Doncaster Council to help pay for his drinking.

In November, Peter McDonald, aged 51, was told by benefits chiefs at the authority that he would be paid an additional £9.06 on top of his £120-a-week allowance to help finance his heavy drinking.

The former boiler cleaner said: “I know it’s a nanny state but I’d no idea they looked after you this well.”

Department for Work and Pensions figures for the quarter starting May 2014 were released following a Freedom of Information request.

Health chiefs have pledged to take action to deal with the problem.

Dr Tony Baxter, director of public health, said: “Drug misuse is a national problem and we are committed to tackling the issue in Doncaster.

“We have a strategy in place which strives to promote recovery and protect individuals, families and communities from the harms caused by substance abuse.”

“We support drug and alcohol users to get the help and support they need at the Doncaster Drug and Alcohol Services at Rosslyn House on Thorne Road. Our aim is to help more people get successful treatment and become drug and alcohol free.”

Helen Owen, chief executive of Doncaster Alcohol Services, said any Doncaster resident could call in to see an assessor and talk about concerns over their drinking habits and would be assessed to identify what service or support they needed and referred on.

Other services on offer include a café for people who need support to cut their drinking.

A DWP spokesman said: “Having an alcohol addiction does not entitle someone to disability benefits, but the associated long-term health effects may.

“We are reforming disability benefits by introducing a new face-to-face assessment and regular reviews – something missing under the old system.

“We are also re-assessing people on incapacity benefits to see what work they can do – with the right support – rather than just writing them off on sickness benefits as happened in the past.

“Our welfare reforms will ensure that support goes to those who need it most.”

n Rosslyn House, 37 Thorne Road, Doncaster, is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 11am and 5pm, or on Mondays and Thursdays between 11am and 7pm. Call Doncaster Drug and Alcohol Services on 01302 730956. Log on to www.drughub.co.uk for further information and support.