David Cameron says it is “not fair” that taxpayers are asked to fund sickness benefits for people with treatable conditions who refuse to seek help.
The Prime Minister has asked Professor Dame Carol Black, an expert adviser on health and work to the Department of Health, to complete a rapid review into how best to get people suffering from long-term yet treatable conditions back to work.
The review look at whether people should face the threat of cuts to their benefits if they refuse to “engage” with a treatment plan.
Mr Cameron said there were too many people “stuck on sickness benefits because of issues that could be addressed but instead are not”.
He added: “Some have drug or alcohol problems, but refuse treatment. In other cases people have problems with their weight that could be addressed, but instead a life on benefits rather than work becomes the choice.
It is not fair to ask hard-working taxpayers to fund the benefits of people who refuse to accept the support and treatment that could help them get back to a life of work. David Cameron
“It is not fair to ask hard-working taxpayers to fund the benefits of people who refuse to accept the support and treatment that could help them get back to a life of work.”
About 100,000 with treatable conditions are receiving sickness benefits and there is currently no requirement for them to undertake treatment.
Former Labour director of communications Alastair Campbell, a former alcoholic, told radio station LBC: “It is embarrassing that we have a PM who does this sort of stuff. The fact that he is making a speech about it is pathetic.
“People that are walking around London and the rest of the rest of the country today, as they walk over people in sleeping bags on the streets, just ask themselves if those people really, really chose to be there. They did not choose to be there – they are alcoholics or drug addicts because it is a disease, it is an illness, that is how it should be treated.
“To say we are not going to give you benefit because you are fat, we are not going to give you benefit because you drink too much, just think about what we have become as a country that that is our Prime Minister and that is how they treat a serious illness.”
Susannah Gilbert from obesity support group Big Matters told the BBC: “It’s naive to think people don’t want to change their lives. Most people aren’t happy with their weight and would like to change.
“Many of them have tried every diet under the sun and they still have a weight problem. So to think that they don’t want to have help isn’t true.”