£750k extra benefits to South Yorkshire alcoholics and addicts

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EXTRA benefits which could total up to £750,000 a year are being paid to just a few hundred people because they are alcoholics or drug abusers.

Most of the claimants have not been medically-assessed to see whether they need the payments, officials admit.

The Department for Work and Pensions has revealed 1,880 sufferers across the Yorkshire region are being paid between £20.55 and £77.45 Disability Living Allowance on top of normal benefits.

Sheffield has about 10 per cent of the region’s population so could account for almost 190 claimants.

If all were paid the maximum, the claims in Sheffield alone would total £750,000 per year.

The DWP said that most people paid Disability Living Allowance have simply filled in a claim form but not been subject to assessment.

Sheffield South East Labour MP Clive Betts said: “I’m quite amazed.

“When you hear about blind people potentially being stopped from having assistance to help them cope with their disability, working families’ tax credits being reduced and housing benefits cut this seems incongruous.

“There should be far more rigorous assessment. Just paying people extra who have filled in a form seems wrong.”

Winnie Smith, of Arbourthorne Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, said: “It’s just not on - payments like this just encourage drug addicts and alcoholics to carry on with their behaviour.”

Linda Daniels, treasurer of Brushes TARA, in Firth Park, added: “I know of people being paid the allowance and it’s irresponsible - they go straight to the off-licence. Funding help and treatment would be better.”

But Steve Givnam, of the Arundel Street Project which helps alcoholics, said: “To receive the Disability Living Allowance, you need to have some sort of physical disability or mental health problems.

“They money is meant to help with extra costs such as taxis and adaptations to people’s homes.”

He added: “Basic payments to someone on Job Seeker’s Allowance are £71 a week which is not a lot so extra payments would help cover necessities.

“I don’t think there should be any welfare cuts at all.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: “There are 32,470 DLA claimants in Sheffield. The majority of people do not have a face-to-face medical assessment when applying. We are reforming the system.”