“One in 15 working-age benefit claimants suffers from addiction to opiates, such as crack cocaine and heroin. An estimated one in 25 working-age benefit claimants suffers alcohol dependency.”
Evening Standard, 29 September 2014
Iain Duncan Smith announced this week that benefits claimants will get their money loaded onto pre-paid cards so they aren’t tempted to squander the cash on drugs, alcohol and gambling.
A reader saw the above claim in the Standard – attributed to Mr Duncan Smith’s “aides” – but it was repeated pretty much verbatim on many other news sites.
Crack cocaine is not an opiate, for a start, so something has got garbled somewhere. What about the numbers?
The sources here are two pieces of research carried out by the DWP based on data from 2008 (in the case of alcohol) and 2006 (drugs). The researchers set out to estimate how many people claiming working-age benefits in England had drink and drug problems.
The paper on alcohol misuse looks at people who scored more than 20 on AUDIT – a commonly used questionnaire used to identify a possible drinking problem. You can do the survey yourself here. FactCheck’s score is going to remain confidential.